Rice Could Lose Its Nutritional Value Due to Rising CO2 Levels

26 May, 2018, 15:36 | Author: Sherry Houston
  • Rice Could Lose Its Nutritional Value Due to Rising CO2 Levels

Director of the ARC's Centre of Excellence for Translational Photosynthesis, Professor Bob Furbank, said in theory higher Carbon dioxide levels were a good thing for growth - but the reality proved somewhat different. This technique was especially employed to test the effects of higher carbon dioxide concentrations on plants growing in the same conditions that farmers are expected grow some decades later in this century.

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

Today, Japanese eaters get just 20 percent of their daily food energy from rice, but elsewhere in Asia it remains as much a staple as it ever was.

Not all rice varieties saw the same drops in nutritional value, raising hope that future research could help farmers develop strains of rice that would be more resilient to atmospheric changes.

A study published this week in the journal Science Advances specifically focuses on rice, which under higher carbon dioxide concentrations experiences a reduction in iron, zinc, protein, and vitamins B1, B2, B5, and B9.

The new study evaluated 18 types of commonly grown rice to see impact of the levels of carbon dioxide.

"Overall, these results indicate that the role of rising Carbon dioxide on reducing rice quality may represent a fundamental, but under-appreciated, human health effect associated with anthropogenic climate change". Compared with current concentrations, the rice crops' nutrient contents all suffered under higher carbon dioxide levels. It is somewhere signaling bad news for the about two billion people whose primary food source is rice.

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"I haven't seen anything about the vitamins, that was new in this paper", Rice said, "but there's other reports that show, or ate least model and have done some lab estimates, that anywhere from 2 to 10 percent less protein content for grains under [an] elevated Carbon dioxide environment".

"There's been studies over the past hundred years for the importance of these B vitamins", Kristie Ebi, a public health researcher at the University of Washington in Seattle and one of the authors of the study. Folate is particularly crucial for maternal and child health.

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.

The research was funded by National Basic Research Program of China, Natural Science Foundation of Jiangsu Province in China, and Youth Innovation Promotion Association of Chinese Academy of Sciences.

The scientists suggest that either breeding or genetically engineering new strains could be a way to lessen the nutritional impact of climate change.

Here's another reason to take climate change seriously.

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