Rice grown at higher carbon dioxide (CO2) concentrations, like those possible later this century, has lower nutritional value, according to a study that evaluated rice grown in Japan and China under simulated carbon dioxide increases. "But how plants respond to that sudden increase in food will impact human health as well, from nutritional deficits, to ethnopharmacology, to seasonal pollen allergies - in ways we don't yet understand", said Lewis Ziska, a plant physiologist with the US Department of Agriculture research service, one of the authors.
Rice could lose its nutritional value due to rising Carbon dioxide levels in the climate.
Through the study researchers aimed at showing how the global warming, climate change and particularly greenhouse gases - carbon dioxide - can have an impact on the nutrient content of the plants that people consume. They blew carbon dioxide out of the tubing, raising the ambient carbon dioxide inside the enclosure to some 580 parts per million, the expected carbon dioxide concentration in the next half century if there are no further attempt to curb emissions or deforestation.
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Researchers analyzed a total of 18 different varieties of rice for protein, iron, and zinc levels. It is somewhere signaling bad news for the about two billion people whose primary food source is rice. And it has been tested in many locations in rice-growing countries over many years. "So the experiment sees what happens to the same rice under different carbon dioxide concentrations". Nine varieties of rice grown in China were used for the vitamin B1, B2, B5, and B9 analyses. Aside from energy-rich carbohydrates, grains feed us protein, zinc, iron and essential B vitamins.
"Some varieties showed a very large decline, some varieties much less a drop of vitamin contents".
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 level of nutrition in plants can also affect many other living things, even bees, pandas and koalas, who live on plants - the only nutrition they get.
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Scientists from China, Japan, the United States and Australia report in the journal Science Advances that they began their research, using what they call the technique of free air carbon dioxide enrichment, in 1998, to recreate what they expect to be the conditions under which farmers will grow crops a few decades from now.
"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". "So they're critically important, particularly for maternal and child health, but for all of us". A paper highlighting this study marks its presence in the Science Advances.
Some varieties of rice may not experience as severe of a nutrient loss as carbon dioxide levels go up.
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