Increasing CO2 threatens human nutrition

Nature. 2014 Jun 5;510(7503):139-42. doi: 10.1038/nature13179. Epub 2014 May 7.

Abstract

Dietary deficiencies of zinc and iron are a substantial global public health problem. An estimated two billion people suffer these deficiencies, causing a loss of 63 million life-years annually. Most of these people depend on C3 grains and legumes as their primary dietary source of zinc and iron. Here we report that C3 grains and legumes have lower concentrations of zinc and iron when grown under field conditions at the elevated atmospheric CO2 concentration predicted for the middle of this century. C3 crops other than legumes also have lower concentrations of protein, whereas C4 crops seem to be less affected. Differences between cultivars of a single crop suggest that breeding for decreased sensitivity to atmospheric CO2 concentration could partly address these new challenges to global health.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Air / analysis
  • Atmosphere / chemistry
  • Australia
  • Breeding
  • Carbon Dioxide / analysis
  • Carbon Dioxide / pharmacology*
  • Crops, Agricultural / chemistry*
  • Crops, Agricultural / drug effects*
  • Crops, Agricultural / metabolism
  • Diet
  • Edible Grain / chemistry
  • Edible Grain / drug effects
  • Edible Grain / metabolism
  • Fabaceae / chemistry
  • Fabaceae / drug effects
  • Fabaceae / metabolism
  • Global Health / trends
  • Humans
  • Iron / analysis
  • Iron / deficiency
  • Iron / metabolism
  • Japan
  • Nutritional Status*
  • Nutritive Value / drug effects*
  • Photosynthesis / drug effects
  • Phytic Acid / analysis
  • Phytic Acid / metabolism
  • Public Health / trends*
  • United States
  • Zinc / analysis
  • Zinc / deficiency
  • Zinc / metabolism

Substances

  • Carbon Dioxide
  • Phytic Acid
  • Iron
  • Zinc