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Carbon Emissions Found to Lower Nutritional Value of Rice

Carbon Emissions Found to Lower Nutritional Value of Rice

People in countries with the highest rice consumption and the lowest gross domestic product could face increasing rates of malnutrition as the nutritional value of rice and other low-cost foods decline. The basic mechanism here could involve other plants and other food staples, said Chuck Rice, a professor of Agronomy at Kansas State University who commented on the study for the Post. 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.

Six hundred million people in regions such as Bangladesh, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao People's Democratic Republic, Myanmar, Vietnam, and Madagascar get at least 50 percent of their daily protein directly from rice. A system of pipes delivered different levels of Carbon dioxide to the rice plants. Beyond physically changing weather conditions and the land on which farmers grow crops, new evidence shows excess carbon dioxide is deteriorating the nutritional quality of some food plants.

"When we looked at vitamin B we looked at nine different varieties from Japan and China and they interestingly responded to high Carbon dioxide concentration in different ways", the University of Tokyo's Kazuhiko Kobayashi said.

They found on average that the test rice had 10% less protein, 8% less iron and 5.1% less zinc compared with rice grown by farmers under existing conditions.

"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", said Professor Kazuhiko Kobayashi of the University of Tokyo, co-author of the recent study and expert in effects of air pollution on agriculture.

It was observed that on average, protein content fell 10.3%, iron dropped eight percent, while the zinc content was reduced by 5.1%, compared to rice grown today under current Carbon dioxide conditions.

Their data revealed an inverse relationship between Carbon dioxide levels and nutritional qualities - the higher the Carbon dioxide level, the lower the levels of vitamins and minerals. Folate or vitamin B9 levels were down 30%.

A mass deficiency in vitamin B9, also known as folate or folic acid, would have particularly severe public health consequences.

The scientists conducted the study using 18 common strains of rice grown in fields in China and Japan.

A study on this issue was published this week in the journal Science Advances. That knowledge gives researchers an opportunity, given enough funding, to breed climate change-resistant strains of rice.

The carbon dioxide humans pump into Earth's atmosphere is doing more damage to the global food system than once thought.

Or, Mora says, humanity could always work together to mitigate climate change and carbon emissions so the problem doesn't arise in the first place.

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