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THERE'S MILK-FED VEAL. WHY NOT MANURE-FED HAM?
You could call it the ultimate in recycling: Dutch researchers have found a way to make animal feed from processed manure--and, while they're at it, curb ground-water pollution and reduce acid rain.
One problem with manure is its ammonia content. When manure is spread on fields, much of the ammonia evaporates, contributing to acid-rain formation. The rest is converted into nitrates, which can seep into the ground and contaminate water supplies. Manure also contains phosphate, another groundwater contaminant that's a common additive in pig food. Now, Gist-brocades, a biotech company in Delft, Holland, offers a one-two fix: First, specially selected bacteria soak up ammonia and turn it into lysine, a protein essential to animal nutrition. It is mixed with pig feed in place of soy. Next, a genetically engineered enzyme called phytase is added to the mixture to help pigs digest phosphorus from plants. This reduces the need for phosphate additives in their feed--and Gist claims the net effect is to cut phosphates in manure by 30%. To prove its idea, Gist is setting up a joint venture with a large bank, Rabobank Nederland, and the Dutch commodity board. Commercial manure processing should begin in 1993.EDITED BY ROBERT BUDERI