Rising carbon emissions are making veggies less healthy

There’s been a long decline in the nutrition of our crops, often attributed to people breeding plants for higher yields rather than health benefits. But, as is often the case, climate change is making it worse.

An altered atmosphere means altered food, because plants suck up CO2 from the air and turn it into sugars, Helena Bottemiller Evich points out in a new piece for Politico. 

That means people are getting more sugar per bite, and less protein, iron, and zinc. The global phenomenon puts hundreds of millions of people at risk of nutrient deficiencies.

It’s not just a problem for humans. Analysis of pollen samples going back to 1842 shows that protein concentration declined dramatically as atmospheric CO2 rose. That indicates yet another suspect in the great bee-murder mystery.

“To say that it’s little known that key crops are getting less nutritious due to rising CO2 is an understatement,” Evich writes for Politico. “It is simply not discussed in the agriculture, public health, or nutrition communities. At all.”


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