Crops losing protein

Published: Saturday 31 May 2014


Rising carbon dioxideÔÇêlevels are lowering the nutritional quality of food crops. For the first time,ÔÇêit has been shown through aÔÇêfield study thatÔÇêelevated carbon dioxide levels curb plants’ ability to convert nitrates into proteins.

The study used wheat samples grown in Phoenix, Arizona, US, under carbon dioxide levels expected in the next few decades.ÔÇêThree different test on the plant leafÔÇêshowed a fall in nitrate assimilation. On an average, the increased carbon dioxide levelsÔÇêcaused a decline of 8 per cent in protein concentration of the crop. The study was published in Nature Climate Change on April 6.

Proteins are vital for human nutrition and wheat accounts for one-fourth of protein in human diet globally. In previous studies, food cropsÔÇêsuch as rice and barley have also shown a similar fall in protein content due to high carbon dioxide levels. Researchers estimate thatÔÇêthe increase in carbon dioxide levels could lead to a 3 per centÔÇêreduction in ÔÇêprotein content in the human diet.

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