According to the latest research, rice all over the world is losing its nutritious value due to rising levels of carbon dioxide. This is going to be hard on people hard all over the world, especially in India as it is the staple food to most people this country houses, and also China. In 2017, it was estimated that 97,350 metric tonnes of rice was consumed in the country.
Scientists have found that exposing rice to the levels of carbon dioxide that are expected in the atmosphere before the end of the century results in the grain containing lower levels of protein, iron and zinc, as well as reduced levels of a number of B vitamins. This would mean that Indians and the Chinese would have to facilitate drastic changes in their diet routines to survive further.
“About two billion people rely on rice as a primary food source and among those that are the poorest, often the consumption of rice in terms of their daily calories is over 50%,” said Dr Lewis Ziska, a co-author of the research from the United States department of agriculture. “Anything that impacts rice in terms of its nutritional quality is going to have an impact.”
This study’s mainly conducted in China and Japan in about 18 different crop sites. The rice was grown in paddy fields, with large octagonal ring-structures installed above the crops. These rings were either supplied with carbon dioxide, or not. The concentration of carbon dioxide the plants were exposed to was monitored at the centre of each ring, and the rice produced by each crop was collected and analysed. The results reveal that crops that were exposed to higher levels of carbon dioxide were on average less nutritious, regardless of the country they were grown in, containing about 10% less protein, 8% less iron and 5% less zinc than rice grown under current levels of carbon dioxide. What’s more, levels of vitamins B1, B2, B5 and B9 also fell, with the latter dropping on average by more than 30%. By contrast, levels of vitamin E rose.
The results of this study show us that we seriously do need to reconsider our relationship with the environment. And if something isn’t done soon, India might have to reconsider its staple food.