Published: Sat, May 26, 2018
Sci-tech | By Brandy Patterson

Global warming may have 'devastating' effects on rice

Global warming may have 'devastating' effects on rice

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. "This is an underappreciated risk of burning of fossil fuels and deforestation", study co-author and director of the University of Washington Center for Health and the Global Environment Kristie Ebi said in a statement. The finding that rice's nutritional quality can suffer as atmospheric Carbon dioxide concentrations increase has notable implications for populations in regions that rely on rice for primary nutrition.

Scientists analyzed rice samples from the experimental plants, measuring the amounts of iron, zinc, protein, and vitamins B1, B2, B5, and B9 found in each.

"This technique allows us to test the effects of higher carbon dioxide concentrations on plants growing in the same conditions that farmers really will grow them some decades later in this century".

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In addition, to the vitamins, there was a reduction of about eight percent in the iron content, about 5.1 percent in the zinc content and about 10.3 percent in the protein content.

Scientists are warning that rice - one of the world's most important cereal crops and the primary food source for more than 2 billion people - may become less nutritious in the future.

The researchers looked at the countries that consumed more rice - on populations that took half of their daily calories from rice. Iron content fell by an average of 8 percent and dropped by as much as 20 percent. Vitamins B1 and B5 dropped up to 30 percent, depending on the variety. Beyond physically changing weather conditions and the land on which farmers grow crops, new evidence shows excess carbon dioxide is deteriorating the nutritional quality of some food plants. These vitamins are vital for the people to clinch in the energy from the food.

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The consequences for wheat are tied to rising temperatures, but with rice, the immediate issue appears to be the growing concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

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. Plants that share the same photosynthesis pathway as rice and wheat do indeed grow larger and produce greater yields in higher carbon dioxide concentrations by creating more carbohydrates, says Lisa Ainsworth, a biologist at the University of IL at Urbana-Champaign and the U.S. Department of. The findings were based on field studies in Japan and China, simulating the amount of Carbon dioxide expected in the atmosphere by the second half of this century - 568 to 590 parts per million. That knowledge gives researchers an opportunity, given enough funding, to breed climate change-resistant strains of rice.

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