Carbon Emissions Found to Lower Nutritional Value of Rice

Leslie Hanson
May 25, 2018

For the first time, research reveals that vitamins B1, B2, B5 and B9, all of which are important to the body's ability to turn food into energy, decrease in rice as carbon dioxide levels increased.

Of course, many foods can be a rich source of these essential nutrients, but Ebi says food other than rice is not always available to people.

Researchers in Japan and China have found that protein, iron and zinc levels in rice all fell significantly when grown in higher carbon dioxide environments.

Researchers in Japan and China grew and studied 18 different varieties, finding that protein, iron and zinc levels all fell significantly in higher Carbon dioxide environments.

The potential health consequences are large, given that there are already billions of people worldwide who do not get enough protein, vitamins or other nutrients in their daily diet.

With further research, scientists might try to breed or genetically engineer new crop varieties that preserve much of their nutritional value in the face of rising carbon dioxide.

"When we study food security, we've often focused on how climate change might affect the production of crops", said Lewis Ziska, a plant physiologist at the U.S. Department of Agriculture and a co-author of the new study. "On the other side of that coin is the quality of that seed also being diminished in response to CO2".

The research was conducted in Japan and China where they held experiment on 18 different types of the crop between 2010 and 2014.

"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.

Higher CO2 means less exposure to nitrogen, which also may affect vitamin content, researchers said. The researchers reported no change in levels of Vitamin B6 or calcium, while Vitamin E levels increased for most strains.

Some studies have noted that higher levels of Carbon dioxide spur plant growth through increased photosynthesis.

The research "corroborates previous work that we've done, showing that elevated Carbon dioxide alters the protein, iron and zinc content of rice-and, in the case of our work, in other staple food crops, as well", said Samuel Myers, a Harvard University expert on climate change and human health. Current levels are just over 400 ppm. The scientists have found that human-caused greenhouse gas emissions in the atmosphere will make rice less nutritious.

Researchers are warning the nutritional changes could have significant health implications - especially in poorer countries.

The change could be particularly dire in Southeast Asia, where rice is a major part of the daily diet, said the report in the journal Science Advances. Focusing on the top 10 highest rice-consuming nations in the world, it compared rice consumption-and the nutrient losses under higher CO2-with each country's gross domestic product per capita.

Still, "what the nature of that impact is in terms of nutritional effects and health effects" remains to be seen, Ziska noted.

Rice could lose its nutritional value due to rising Carbon dioxide levels in the climate.

Reprinted from Climatewire with permission from E&E News.

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

Discuss This Article