Carbon dioxide is one of the main greenhouse gases, so its emissions have a great impact on the environment. Apart from affecting the climate and the atmosphere, this gas has a direct effect on the growth of a particular plant. It seems that the increase of carbon dioxide levels will reduce the rice nutritional value, impacting the health and development of several millions of people.
High carbon dioxide levels impact the nutritional properties of plants
Last month, researchers noticed how the levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere reached their highest point in about 800,000 years. Plants thrive thanks to carbon dioxide, as they use it for photosynthesis and then produce oxygen. However, it turns out too much of it can really be damaging.
Researchers noticed an interesting phenomenon that took place over the past decades. As carbon dioxide levels got higher, certain nutrients became less powerful. This includes a series of vitamins, proteins, zinc, but also iron. As a result, many plants that contained them significantly reduced their nutritional value.
Millions of children from eastern Asia will suffer because of the low rice nutritional properties
For the study, researchers looked how carbon dioxide affects the above nutrients. Soaring levels of the gas had the biggest impact on vitamin B9, which is essential for pregnant women to avoid birth defects. Both proteins and iron decreased by 10 percent, while zinc levels decreased by 5 percent.
Rice contains all these nutrients and represents the main source of calories, vitamins, and proteins for people living in eastern Asia. It’s the main meal both in developed and in poor countries. If the rice nutritional value suffers, it will have an impact on the development of several millions of children.
It’s relatively difficult to calculate the exact effect of low rice nutritional value. However, not getting all the necessary substances at an early age can lead to improper development, health problems, and even the emergence of dangerous infectious diseases like malaria. While developed countries are less likely to suffer from this, a low rice nutritional value will definitely be quite destructive in the poorer regions.
The study on these effects was published in the journal Science Advances.
Image source: Pixabay