Climate change will make rice less nutritious
A study showed that climate change is diminishing the nutritional value of rice, which is considered as the primary food source for most people especially in Southeast Asia.
University of Washington professor, Kirstie Ebi shared her findings and how it affects humans through an Earthsky article.
Ebi collaborated with scientists from scientists from China, Japan, Australia and the United States and conducted field studies in Asia for multiple genetically diverse rice lines, analyzing how rising concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere altered levels of protein, micronutrients and B vitamins.
The findings support research from other field studies showing rice grown in an environment with high concentrations of atmospheric carbon dioxide contains less protein, iron and zinc, which are important in fetal and early child development. These changes could have a disproportionate impact on maternal and child health in the poorest rice-dependent countries.
On average, the rice that was grew in air with elevated CO2 concentrations contained 17 percent less vitamin B1 (thiamine) than rice grown under current CO2 concentrations; 17 percent less vitamin B2 (riboflavin); 13 percent less vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid); and 30 percent less vitamin B9 (folate). There was also a reduction of 10 percent in protein, 8 percent in iron and 5 percent in zinc. The only increase found was in vitamin E levels for most strains.
The potential health risks associated with CO2-induced nutritional deficiency are directly correlated to the lowest overall gross domestic product per capita. This suggests that such changes would have serious potential consequences for countries already struggling with poverty and undernutrition.
Few people would associate fossil fuel combustion and deforestation with the nutritional content of rice, but our research clearly shows one way in which emitting fossil fuels could worsen world hunger challenges.
The rapid rise of CO2 emissions is most likely caused by human activities the 280 parts per million during pre-industrial times quickly reached almost double in 410 parts per million in the present.
If global emission rates continue on their current path, atmospheric CO2 concentrations could reach over 1,200 parts per million by 2100 (including methane and other greenhouse gas emissions) which will not only affect our habitat but also our food supply.