Viewpoint: Politico exaggerated link between climate change and food ‘nutrient collapse’

Rajeev Varshney

Politico offered the following headline, The great nutrient collapse, The atmosphere is literally changing the food we eat, for the worse. The article that followed reviewed a meta-analysis that was thought-provoking but did not go as far as Politico’s enticing header.

[While] the bottom line in the meta-analysis is that rising atmospheric CO2 alters the composition of plants, the Politico article leaves out some of the subtlety of the findings.

  • The changes in the range of about an 8% decrease in mineral composition were found in CO2 concentrations of 689 ppm. Lower CO2 ppm were associated with more moderate reductions, extrapolating to our current levels, the mineral decrease was perhaps 4%.
  • The mineral decreases were greater in the leafy components of the plants, not the edible portions so again the actual mineral decrease in the plants entering our food chain is lower, say a 2% decrease

[Irakli] Loladze [the meta-analysis’ author] goes on to argue that the increasing carbohydrate component of plants could be responsible for the increased weight gain in the population. The article makes clear that this is conjecture, a thought experiment. Politico misses that subtlety. The paper includes the concerns of the peer reviewers, who initially rejected the paper.

The GLP aggregated and excerpted this article to reflect the diversity of news, opinion and analysis. Read full, original post: Politico’s ‘Great Nutrient Collapse’ (Perhaps More Of A Droop)

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