Rice to become less nutritious as Carbon dioxide levels rise

26 May, 2018, 15:38 | Author: Darnell Taylor
  • Rice to become less nutritious as Carbon dioxide levels rise

The reasons for the changes have to do with how higher Carbon dioxide affects the plant's structure and growth, increasing carbohydrate content and reducing protein and minerals, said the study.

"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", says Kazuhiko Kobayashi, a co-author of the study from the University of Tokyo, in a press release. Findings of a new study have revealed it may also affect the nutritional value of food.

A new study has warned that rising levels of carbon dioxide (Co2) in the atmosphere may reduce essential nutrients in the rice.

The experiments were conducted by Japan's National Agriculture and Food Research Organization.

"When you think about who consumes as a proportion of their diet the most starch, it generally is the poor, in all countries", Ebi said.

Rise in Carbon dioxide level declines quality of important food crop, according to the new findings.

The new study evaluated 18 types of commonly grown rice to see impact of the levels of carbon dioxide. The drop in the nutritional value of rice could mean it would be a disaster for the health and development of the two billion people who rely on rice as their primary source of nourishment.

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"There's been studies over the past hundred years for the importance of these B vitamins", said study researcher Kristie Ebi, from the University of Washington in Seattle. Specifically, iron, zinc, protein, and vitamins B1, B2, B5, and B9, were reduced in rice grown under higher carbon dioxide concentrations expected in the second half of this century (568 to 590 parts per million). Iron content fell by an average of 8 percent and dropped by as much as 20 percent.

Researchers found that at high carbon dioxide concentrations, vitamins B1, B2, B5, and B9 in rice all declined. "Folate [vitamin B9] declines across the nine rice varieties ranged from 10 percent to 45 percent". Folate is particularly crucial for maternal and child health. They confirmed declines in protein, iron and zinc, as well as consistent declines in vitamin B, in all varieties, under increases of this greenhouse gas.

Rice accounts for "approximately 25 percent of all global calories", according to the study, which was published in the journal Science Advances.

The rice was grown at research sites in China and Japan using an open-field method where researchers build 17-meter-wide (56-foot-wide) plastic pipe octagons elevated about 30 centimeters (1 foot) above the tops of plants within standard rice fields.

"It's just another piece of evidence to show how bad climate change is", he says.

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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