The Carbon Dioxide Makes Plants Less Nutritious, Shows New Study

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We fill our planet’s atmosphere with carbon dioxide, impacting the whole globe. What we don’t know is that this also impacts the crops. Not only it changes weather conditions, but it also deteriorates the quality of some plants we eat.

A study on this issue was published this week in the journal Science Advances. It analyzed how different concentrations of CO2 affects rice, resulting in a plant with less nutritious values. The rice affected by high concentration of carbon dioxide had less minerals and vitamins: iron, zinc, protein, and vitamins B1, B2, B5, and B9.

The researchers looked at the countries that consumed more rice – on populations that took half of their daily calories from rice.

Lewis Ziska is a plant physiologist, with the US Department of Agriculture, and member of the team behind the study. He said:

“It’s something that we need to be aware of and it’s something that we need to evaluate. The risk is going to be especially egregious for the poorest people in the world.”

Nutrients Decreaseing in a Primary Food Can Affect the Health of 600 Million People

Poor countries have less access to a diverse diet, resulting in a less nutritious rice that heavily impacts the population. The level of nutrition in plants can also affect many other living things, even bees, pandas and koalas, who live on plants – the only nutrition they get.

The research started with growing 18 varieties of rice in China and Japan. Each site contained a piping system that released carbon dioxide into the environment, measured with monitors and sensors.

The co-author of the study, Kazuhiko Kobayashi with the University of Tokyo, stated in a press release:

“This technique allows us to test the effects of higher carbon dioxide concentrations on plants growing in the same conditions that farmers really will grow them some decades later in this century.”

Researchers concluded that over 600 million of people are at risk if the quality of a primary food is decreased.

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Andre Blair s is the lead editor for Advocator.ca. He holds a B.A. in Psychology from the University of Toronto, and a Master of Science in Public Health (M.S.P.H.) from the School of Public Health, Department of Health Administration, at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Andre specializes in environmental health, but writes on a variety of issues.


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