Friday, August 21, 2009


CO2 is a much reviled gas because of its green house effect and consequent contribution to global warming or 'climate change' as some like to put it. However its effect on quality of crops is not so very well understood. During the beginning of this millennium some scientists did predict that rising levels of this gas in the atmosphere will reduce the nutritive value of staple crops like wheat significantly. More alarming is the finding that high levels of CO2 increases the cyanide content in the root crop cassava besides making plants like eucalyptus produce more terpenes in the atmosphere, considered undesirable. The new findings reported in Germany confirm how CO2 can reduce the nutritive value of wheat when grown in open fields in an environment containing CO2 at levels anticipated to be reached by the year 2050.

According to the group which organized the studies "the discovery that staple crops like wheat have less protein when grown in high concentrations of CO2 has already caused concern, but the bad news doesn't stop there. Ramping up CO2 also changes the balance of amino acids and several trace elements."

The 8% drop in protein may not be that alarming but reducing the concentration of essential amino acids can have significant adverse impact, especially for small children. Reduction of iron content is also some thing to be worried about considering the wide spread prevalence of anemia in many parts of the world. The14% reduction in Cadmium, one of the heavy metals, is a positive news and this area calls for more extensive multi country investigations by WHO to bring out other adverse consequences of rising CO2 levels caused by industrial activity and uncontrolled deforestation, on the food supply chain..

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