Global Warming May Be Pulling Out Protein and Vitamins From Your Rice: Study 

According to a latest study, as carbon dioxide rises due to the burning of fossil fuels, rice is expected to lose some of its protein and vitamin content, which could put millions at risk of malnutrition.

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Global Warming May Be Pulling Out Protein and Vitamins From Your Rice: Study
Here's another reason to take climate change seriously. Global warming is slowly taking a toll on the nutritional value of some of our basic foods and numbers by which it can affect our well-being are startling. According to a latest study, as carbon dioxide rises due to the burning of fossil fuels, rice is expected to lose some of its protein and vitamin content, which could put millions at risk of malnutrition. The report published in journal Science Advances, revealed that the changes could be particularly severe in the southeast Asia. Where rice forms a staple part of daily diet. 

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. 

The climate change may have detrimental effect on the health of rice-consuming countries. Since 70% of the calories and most of the nutrients come from rice, efforts must be taken to prevent growth stunting repercussions that could arise due to protein and vitamin deficiencies.  Scientists revealed that the nutrient deficiency may also lead to birth defects, diarrhea, infections and early death.
One of the other highlighting feature of the report is that countries at most risk include those that consume the most rice and have the lowest gross domestic product (GDP), such as Myanmar, Laos and Cambodia, Drewnowksi said. The findings were based on field studies in Japan and China, simulating the amount of CO2 expected in the atmosphere by the second half of this century -- 568 to 590 parts per million. Current levels are just over 400 ppm.

As part of the experiments, 18 different strains of rice were planted in open fields, surrounded in certain areas by 56-foot wide (17-meter) octagons of plastic piping that released extra CO2. This technique was especially employed to test the effects of higher carbon dioxide concentrations on plants growing in the same conditions that farmers  are expected grow some decades later in this century.
The findings revealed that Vitamin B1 (thiamine) levels decreased by 17.1%; average Vitamin B2 (riboflavin) by 16.6%; average Vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid) by 12.7%; and average Vitamin B9 (folate) by 30.3%.

It was observed that on average, protein content fell 10.3%, iron dropped eight percent, while the zinc content was reduced by 5.1%, compared to rice grown today under current CO2 conditions. Vitamin B6 and calcium were unaffected, and vitamin E levels rose for most strains.
According to the study a large part of the changes observed has to do with how higher CO2 affects the plant's structure and growth, increasing carbohydrate content and reducing protein and minerals. With higher exposure to CO2, the exposure to nitrogen would reduce considerably too, which may further affect the crop's vitamin content

It must be noted that not all rice varieties saw the same drops in nutritional value. Which points to a ray of hope that future research could help farmers develop strains of rice that would be more resilient to atmospheric changes. 

 


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