BEIJING, CHINA — Researchers in China claim to have found a way to make animal feed protein from carbon monoxide, Reuters reported.

This could help the nation, which is the world’s top buyer of soybeans, reduce its reliance on the oilseed.

The Feed Research Institute of the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences (CAAS) said it has worked with Beijing Shoulang Biological Technology to speed up a gas fermentation process to create a single cell protein that could be fed to animals, according to a report from a website run by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs.

The team is operating a facility in northern Hebei province to turn steel-making tail gas into 5,000 tonnes of protein a year. The protein produced has been approved by the agriculture ministry for feeding to animals, the report said.

Other start-ups across the world are also looking to synthetic biology to create animal feed using protein-rich microorganisms.