THE GREA NUTRIENT COLLAPSE: HOW CLIMATE CHANGE AFFECTS THE MINERAL CONTENT OF WHAT YOU EAT
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When you hear about climate change, the conversation generally revolves around rising sea levels, rising temperatures, loss of wildlife habitat, and extreme weather; how these changes are affecting our food crops is not generally mentioned. Yet, there is an effect on the mineral content of plants due to the changes in our climate and it could affect your health.
There seems to be a connection between rising CO2 levels and nutrient concentrations in plants. To give us a better understanding of what is going on we spoke with Irakli Loladze, PhD a Mathematical Biologist and a Professor at Bryan College of Health Sciences. Loladze is one of the people who has been paying attention to the effect that atmospheric changes are having on the food we eat.
The term Nutrient Collapse has been used to describe the drop in mineral concentrations, and Loladze described it as "a lower content of nutrients that are essential for human nutrition in crops and wild plants." He added that this is "relative to pre-industrial levels and even relative to the levels of several decades ago."
"A definite causative factor is rising CO2." - Irakli Loladze, PhD
Loladze explained that this has been happening "since the pre-industrial revolution era, [and] accelerated in recent decades." He was quick to point out that "other factors are at play here too, depleted soils, chasing higher [crop] yields through breeding and other agronomical practices."
This startling change in mineral content in our food crops influences human health. Loladze qualified this as "hidden hunger." He continued "a diet that is calorie rich [and] nutrient poor is the top nutritional disorder in the world with iron, zinc, and iodine deficiencies affecting 2 billion people." Loladze added, "deficiencies of calcium and magnesium are also widespread and affect even industrial countries."
Loladze is describing a worldwide issue as "CO2 levels are rising globally, and rather uniformly." The other factors such as "soil, and breeding are more localized" he said.
Now that the problem has been identified the question is how do we address it? Loladze said that it is "the job of scientists to generate knowledge, and it is up to policy maker to act on it or not." He added that "there are a number of approaches to mitigating the issue, including fortification, supplementation and breeding for more nutritious crops."
There seems to be a connection between rising CO2 levels and nutrient concentrations in plants. To give us a better understanding of what is going on we spoke with Irakli Loladze, PhD a Mathematical Biologist and a Professor at Bryan College of Health Sciences.
Loladze admits that "all of these approaches are localized and face many hurdles." There is the "possibility that people will start to move their diets slightly toward animal products," he said. That type of diet is "more nutrient dense with respect to essential minerals and protein, [they are] more taxing on the environment and cost more."