‘Climate change may decrease nutrients in food’

Namrata Devikar
Friday, 9 August 2019

“We did not examine changes in the nutrient content of livestock products in this study because we are unaware of existing literature or models that have addressed this question and could be used as source of input data." said Robert Beach

PUNE: In a recent study published in Lancet Planetary Health Journal, it was found that with increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) due to climate change, the concentration of global per capita availability of protein, iron and zinc will be reduced by 19.5 per cent, 14.4 per cent, and 14.6 per cent respectively. Robert Beach, lead author of the paper, ‘Combining the effects of increased atmospheric carbon dioxide on protein, iron, and zinc availability and projected climate change on global diets: a modelling study’ spoke exclusively to Sakal Times.

The study found that in South Asia, iron and zinc availability is projected to be below recommended levels. With severe iron deficiency already present in India, the impact of climate change will further lead to lack of nutrients in food. Robert Beach said, “This means that many people with already low nutrient intake will likely become more vulnerable to deficiencies in iron, zinc, and protein as crops lose their nutrients.” “In India, we find that nutrient availability per capita of protein, iron, and zinc will be 4.1 to 4.9 pc, 2.5 to 4.4 pc and 2.8 to 4.0 pc lower, respectively, under the climate change scenarios that we simulated.”

“This is equivalent to reduction in growth of nutrient availability between 2010 and 2050 of 12.4 to 15.0 per cent for protein, 6.4 to 11.3 per cent for iron, and 11.7 to 17.0 per cent for zinc,” noted Beach. 

He said the impact on individual crops can have disproportionate effects on diets and health. “Wheat is among the most negatively impacted crops and is such an important source of nutrients that it tends to have large effects, but all the crops with statistically significant effects reported in the literature are negatively impacted, including rice, barley, maize (for iron), soybeans (for zinc), potatoes and vegetables,” said Beach.

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