Rising Level of Carbon Dioxide in Atmosphere Found to Reduce Nutritional Value of Rice

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Nutritional value of rice is found to reduce with increasing level of carbon dioxide level, according to a report published on May 23, 2018.

This study was conducted by the researchers at the University of Tokyo. The international research team analyzed samples of rice from field experiments that were started by a professor of the University of Tokyo, which led to this observation. Iron, zinc, protein, and vitamins B1, B2, B5, and B9 content in rice low in rice that was grown under higher carbon dioxide concentrations.

Rice is a major source of calories, proteins, and vitamins for many people in emerging economies and for poorer communities within developed countries. Population in countries with both the highest rice consumption and lowest gross domestic product might experience more malnutrition due to reduction in nutritional value of low-cost staple foods such as rice. All varieties of rice did not show the same result, therefore, future research studies could examine the possibility of finding varieties of rice that can remain nutritious despite change in the atmosphere.

Research sites in China and Japan were used for growing rice using an open-field method. A 17-meter-wide plastic pipe octagons were created by the researchers, which was elevated about 30 centimeters (1 foot) above the tops of plants within standard rice fields. To measure the amount of carbon dioxide that is being released from the pipes, a network of sensors and monitors that measure wind speed and direction were installed. The technique is known as Free-Air Carbon dioxide Enrichment (FACE).

Professor Kazuhiko Kobayashi, co-author of the study, said, “At our first field site, we learned we have to keep all of the pipes and tubes above the ground because raccoons kept chewing through everything and jeopardized the experiment.” A total of 18 varieties of rice for protein, iron, and zinc levels were analyzed by the researchers.

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