Dhruvika writes on sustainable practices in various sectors for BuzzOnEarth. Get in touch with her at dhruvika@buzzonearth.com. Sometimes she reads her emails too.

According to a new research from the United States Department of Agriculture, rice will lose its nutrition due to climate change. This is an alarming situation considering that rice is the primary food source for more than 3 billion people around the world.

The carbon dioxide is on a rise and it could lead to the reduction of various nutrients found in rice. In fact, many varieties of the crop can drop their nutrition value. Plants make sugar from carbon dioxide. Climate change will increase the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere which will lead to the production of more sugar and fewer nutrients.

Image: Pixabay

It will result in a lower amount of proteins, iron, zinc and vitamin B in the crops. Scientists conducted experiments on 18 types of crop in China and Japan over the span of 4 years. The crops were grown with different amount of carbon dioxide. Researchers analysed the rice produced by each crop. The crop grown with a high level of carbon dioxide contained about 10% less protein, 8% less iron, 5% less zinc and lower levels of vitamin B than the rice grown in a normal level of carbon dioxide.

“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. “Anything that impacts rice in terms of its nutritional quality is going to have an impact.”

Image: IRRI

Rice is the most affected crop by climate change as it grows quickly. That’s the reason it is the main source of food in many developing countries like Cambodia, Bangladesh and China. Asian countries contain 70% of world’s poor and a staggering 90% of world’s rice is produced and consumed in Asia. The nutrients getting affected are important in fetal and early child development and their deficiency can cause severe health problems and diseases like malaria, anemia and weakened immune system.

Image: FAO

But not all hope is lost. Some varieties of rice showed little change in their nutritional value so it might be possible to develop rice variety grown in the higher level of carbon dioxide with an optimum level of nutrients.