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Worries grow that climate change will quietly steal nutrients from major food crops

Increasing carbon dioxide tinkers with plant chemistry in ways not well understood

By
8:27am, December 13, 2017
researchers measuring wheat

CROP FUTURES  Experiments using circles of white pipes blowing extra carbon dioxide over crops suggest that certain nutrients may dwindle in crops grown in a carbon-enhanced future atmosphere. Here, researchers in Arizona measure the growth of wheat.

2017 was a good year for worrying about nutrient losses that might come with a changing climate.

The idea that surging carbon dioxide levels could stealthily render some major crops less nutritious has long been percolating in plant research circles. “It’s literally a 25-year story, but it has come to a head in the last year or so,” says Lewis Ziska, a plant physiologist with the U.S. Agricultural Research Service in Beltsville, Md.

Concerns are growing that wheat, rice and some other staple crops could, pound for pound, deliver less of some minerals and protein in decades to come than those crops do today. In 2017, three reports highlighted what changes in those crops could mean for global health. Also this year, an ambitious analysis made

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