Rice’s nutritional value decreases as atmospheric CO2 increases

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In Washington State, a new field study by an international team of scientists indicates that higher carbon dioxide concentrations are associated with reductions in protein and multiple key nutrients in rice.

The study showed for the first time that rice grown at concentrations of atmospheric CO2 expected by the end of this century has lower levels of four key B vitamins. The findings also support other field studies showing rice grown under higher CO2 concentrations has less protein, iron and zinc.

“Rice has been a dietary staple for thousands of years for many populations in Asia and is the fastest growing food staple in Africa,” said co-author Kristie Ebi, director of the University of Washington Center for Health & the Global Environment and professor of global health and environmental and occupational health sciences. “Reductions in the nutritional quality of rice could affect maternal and child health for millions of people.”