Rising carbon dioxide levels are causing climate change. But they could also be making the food on your plate less nutritious.
Loladze: “Every time you eat, say, a carrot or a bread or potatoes, the quality of it is different than, all else being equal, it was, say, a hundred years ago.”
Irakli Loladze, of Nebraska’s Bryan College of Health Sciences, studies how carbon dioxide levels affect plant nutrients. He analyzed studies from around the world that examined the nutrient levels of plants grown in experiments with elevated levels of CO2.
The data include more than 7,000 samples of 130 plant varieties, including rice, wheat, and other grains, as well as fruits and vegetables.
Loladze says the overall trend is clear.
Loladze: “Rising CO2 lowers the concentration of minerals, so calcium, magnesium, zinc, iron, they all drop.”
The effects are small, and the cumulative effects on human health are still unknown. But because mineral deficiencies can cause medical and developmental problems, he says it’s a worrisome finding – especially for people already struggling to meet their basic nutritional needs.
Reporting credit: Justyna Bicz/ChavoBart Digital Media.