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Multiple Aspects of Climate Change Threaten Nutritional Values of Crops Worldwide

Updated: May 10, 2022

Soil dirt on hands

According to The Lancet journal, the harshest impacts of climate change may be in food supply, nutrition, and diet. Shifting weather patterns will reduce crop yields all over the world, and thereby cause food shortages. And the nutritional content of food produced is likely to be severely compromised.

The nutritional consequences of reduced zinc, iron, and protein in grains and legumes are not the entire story. In 2014, Irakli Loladze, a mathematical biologist, analyzed the effects of increased carbon dioxide levels on 130 different species of food plants. He found that, in every case, their nutritional value was lessened. There was reduced levels of important minerals such as potassium and manganese. But there was increased levels of non-nutritious starches and sugars. “In effect, the nutrients are diluted,” comments David Berreby of

We need to globally reduce carbon emissions, per the 2016 Paris Agreement. This would likely be the best and most direct way of avoiding worldwide crop degradation. But as time has shown, this project is far from simple. There may be other mitigation options available such as genetically engineered high-protein and high-nutrient foods. We could also curtail massive food waste in affluent countries like the United States. Meanwhile, it is wise to be mindful that we all need access to fresh, wholesome foods.



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