Rising levels of CO2 could exacerbate malnutrition

argylesock says… Climate change is happening. We humans caused it. Here’s yet another way that climate change threatens people, especially poor people. [Edit] I looked up the original paper (behind a paywall, but my University library has a subscription) and found that the crops these scientists tested were varieties of rice (Oryza sativa), wheat (Triticum aestivum), maize (corn, Zea mays), soya (soybeans, Glycine max), field peas (Pisum sativum) and sorghum (Sorghum bicolor).

The Plantwise Blog

Wheat field  © Lauren Tucker Wheat field © Lauren Tucker

New research suggests that rising levels of carbon dioxide will not only have a devastating effect on our climate but will lower the nutritional value of many staple crops, increasing deficiencies in iron and zinc.

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About argylesock

I wrote a PhD about veterinary parasitology so that's the starting point for this blog. But I'm now branching out into other areas of biology and into popular science writing. I'll write here about science that happens in landscapes, particularly farmland, and about science involving interspecific interactions. Datasets and statistics get my attention. Exactly where this blog will lead? That's a journey that I'm on and I hope you'll come with me.
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2 Responses to Rising levels of CO2 could exacerbate malnutrition

  1. EQFE says:

    Do you know if the yield was higher with the increased CO2?

    • argylesock says:

      Yes it was, if you’re talking about the yield of starch. The authors (Myers et al, Nature online May 2014, doi:10.1038/nature13179) seem to have expected that. But they observe that their results don’t suggest a simple ‘carbohydrate dilution’ in which more starch would dilute the micronutrient concentrations. The changes arising when CO2 was elevated varied between micronutrients, between crop species and between varieties of the same crop.

      Myers et al say, ‘[B]reeding programmes will not be a panacea for many reasons including the affordability of improved seeds and the numerous criteria used by farmers in making planting decisions that include taste, tradition, marketability, growing requirements and yield. In addition… there are likely to be trade-offs with respect to yield and other performance characteristics when breeding for increased zinc and iron content.’

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