Climate change will affect just about everything, including your stomach.
New research from UC Davis shows how increased levels of carbon dioxide are harming the quality of crops, putting us at risk of eating less-nutritious food.
“Food quality is declining,” said lead author Arnold Bloom, a professor in the Department of Plant Sciences. “Several explanations for this decline have been put forward, but this is the first study to demonstrate that elevated carbon dioxide inhibits the conversion of nitrate into protein in a field-grown crop.”
The less protein in a plant, the less nutritious it is. While the study looked at wheat, which constitutes almost one-fourth of all protein in the global human diet, scientists say that protein concentrations in rice, barley and potato tubers are all at risk.
Other studies have shown that on average, plant proteins decrease by about 8 percent under more CO2. With this in consideration, Bloom estimates that the total protein available for human consumption may decrease by as much as 3 percent in the coming decades.
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Scientists say there might be a work-around, like using an excess of nitrogen fertilizer to counteract the decline of nutritional value, but there are other environmental concerns that come, too.
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