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Climate change will make rice less nutritious

19 12 23
14.06.2018

RICE is the primary food source for more than 3 billion people around the world. Many are unable to afford a diverse and nutritious diet that includes complete protein, grains, fruits and vegetables. They rely heavily on more affordable cereal crops, including rice, for most of their calories.

My research focuses on health risks associated with climate variability and change. In a recently published study, I worked with scientists from China, Japan, Australia and the United States to assess how the rising carbon dioxide concentrations that are fueling climate change could alter the nutritional value of rice.

We conducted field studies in Asia for multiple genetically diverse rice lines, analysing how rising concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere altered levels of protein, micronutrients and B vitamins.

SEE ALSO: Suicides and forced migration: The reality of climate change in South Asia

Our data showed for the first time that rice grown at the concentrations of atmospheric carbon dioxide scientists expect the world to reach by 2100 has lower levels of four key B vitamins. These findings also support research from other field studies showing rice grown under such conditions 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, including Bangladesh and Cambodia.

Many of poorest regions in Asia rely on rice as a staple food. Source: IRRI, CC BY-NC-SA via The Conversation

Carbon dioxide and plant growth

Plants obtain the carbon they need to grow primarily from carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, and draw other required nutrients from the soil. Human activities – mainly fossil fuel combustion and deforestation – raised atmospheric CO2 concentrations from about 280 parts per million during........

© Asian Correspondent