Rice Loses B Vitamins, Other Nutrients Because Of Rising Carbon Dioxide Levels

Rice Could Lose Its Nutritional Value Due to Rising CO2 Levels

Rice Could Lose Its Nutritional Value Due to Rising CO2 Levels

Earlier this year, NOAA scientists announced the month of April averaged global Carbon dioxide concentrations above 410 parts per million, a new record. Global warming is slowly taking a toll on the nutritional value of some of our basic foods and numbers by which it can affect our well-being are startling.

As carbon dioxide rises due to the burning of fossil fuels, rice will lose some of its protein and vitamin content, putting millions of people at risk of malnutrition, scientists warned on Wednesday. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization, the fruits of three grasses provide the world with 60 percent of its total food: corn, wheat and rice. And it has been tested in many locations in rice-growing countries over many years.

However, not all types of rice responded to the experiential conditions in the same way, which means there is a chance that scientists could identify varieties of rice that maintain their nutritional value regardless of Carbon dioxide levels.

"Rice is not just a major source of calories, but also proteins and vitamins for many people in developing countries and for poorer communities within developed countries", Kazuhiko Kobayashi, a professor at the University of Tokyo, said in a news release. "It's not a one-size-fits-all explanation", said Lewis Ziska, a research plant physiologist at the US Department of Agriculture and a co-author of the new study.

The researchers found that rice grown under higher concentrations of carbon dioxide had lower levels of iron, zinc, protein and B vitamins. "So the experiment sees what happens to the same rice under different carbon dioxide concentrations". Iron, zinc and protein losses ranged from 5 percent to 20 percent.

"Some varieties showed a very large decline, some varieties much less a drop of vitamin contents".

On average, protein content fell 10.3 per cent, iron dropped eight percent and zinc was reduced by 5.1 percent, compared to rice grown today under current Carbon dioxide conditions. Folate is particularly crucial for maternal and child health. The findings were based on field studies in Japan and China, simulating the amount of Carbon dioxide expected in the atmosphere by the second half of this century - 568 to 590 parts per million.

The rice was grown at research sites in China and Japan, where researchers built 55-foot-wide plastic pipes elevated about a foot above the tops of plants within standard rice fields. But so far, there has been little research on the impact of climate change on the nutritional qualities of each staple.

Indeed, the research fits an increasingly common theme in climate findings, which is that the poor and disadvantaged globally would be hit hardest by these kinds of changes, and would be least able to adjust or diversify their diets in order to pick up nutrients in other ways.

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