Is climate change ‘robbing’ our food of nutrients?

gm crops gmo maize creditciat flickr
Image Credit: CIAT/Flickr

Is it possible to starve yourself of nutrients while simultaneously gaining weight? …. According to a growing body of research, rising carbon dioxide levels are making our food less nutritious, robbing key crops of vitamins essential to human development.

Studies have shown that crops as varied as wheat, maize, soybeans and field peas contain less proteinzinc, and iron when grown under levels of carbon dioxide expected by 2050. Many crops have already suffered losses in these nutrients; one study compared modern plants with historical herbarium specimens and found that levels of all minerals, including zinc, iron and calcium, closely tracked carbon dioxide levels through time.

In countries in which the majority of people rely on a few staple crops and do not eat diverse foods rich in minerals, nutrient collapse may pose serious threats to nutrition. For example, rice and wheat provide two out of every five calories that people consume. Rice alone provides 70 percent of calorie intake in Bangladesh …. where malnutrition is already an issue.

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Can we mitigate the effects of nutrient collapse? Perhaps, but it won’t be easy …. Scientists have successfully genetically engineered crops with boosted nutrients. Golden rice, for example, provides people with more vitamin A than other varieties, but this process is lengthy, expensive and unlikely to compensate for the plethora of nutrients and vitamins declining as a result of rising atmospheric carbon dioxide.

Read full, original article: Vanishing Nutrients

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