As CO2 Is Rising Rice Loses B Vitamins

The scientists conducted the study using 18 common strains of rice grown in fields in China and Japan. The rice affected by high concentration of carbon dioxide had less minerals and vitamins: iron, zinc, protein, and vitamins B1, B2, B5, and B9. If the rice nutritional value suffers, it will have an impact on the development of several millions of children.

The findings suggested that such a nutritional loss would have serious consequences on the poorest citizens of some of the least-developed countries, who heavily depend on rice as a staple in their diets.

Human-caused greenhouse gas emissions threaten to make rice less nutritious, scientists said in a study released Wednesday, raising a worrying possibility about the staple food item for billions of humans. For the research plants were exposed to atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations of 568 to 590 parts per million. "But how plants respond to that sudden increase in food will impact human health as well, from nutritional deficits, to ethnopharmacology, to seasonal pollen allergies - in ways we don't yet understand", said Lewis Ziska, a plant physiologist with the US Department of Agriculture research service, one of the authors. These vitamins are vital for the people to clinch in the energy from the food.

Director of the ARC's Centre of Excellence for Translational Photosynthesis, Professor Bob Furbank, said in theory higher Carbon dioxide levels were a good thing for growth - but the reality proved somewhat different.

Increased carbon dioxide in the atmosphere will reduce the nutritional value of rice, according to an worldwide research team that analyzed rice samples from field experiments started by a University of Tokyo professor. Iron content fell by an average of 8 percent and dropped by as much as 20 percent.


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%.

"Rice is not just a major source of calories, but also proteins and vitamins for many people in developing countries and for poorer communities within developed countries", said Professor Kobayashi. "So they're critically important, particularly for maternal and child health, but for all of us".

Plants pull carbon from the air and grow, and they will pull more of it as concentrations rise. A paper highlighting this study marks its presence in the Science Advances. That knowledge gives researchers an opportunity, given enough funding, to breed climate change-resistant strains of rice.

"But there's also the negative effects of climate change in terms of more frequent drought [and] higher temperatures, which can tend to negate the positive benefit of extra carbon dioxide from a photosynthetic perspective".


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