Op-ed: Millions at risk as global warming saps key nutrients from crops

Staple foods such as wheat and rice are losing essential nutrients due to global warming. Experts don’t know exactly why this is happening, but they warn that if greenhouse gas emissions aren’t curtailed, millions more around the world could face nutritional deficiencies that could lead to increases in disease susceptibility, stunting, infant mortality, reduced IQ, anemia, and premature death.

In an August 8, 2019 opinion piece in the Washington Post, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health’s Samuel Myers noted that edible crops are losing zinc, iron, protein, and key vitamins.

“By 2050, hundreds of millions of people could slip below the minimum thresholds of these nutrients needed for good health, and more than 2 billion already deficient could see their conditions worsen,” wrote Myers, a principal research scientist at Harvard Chan School and director of the Planetary Health Alliance. “And it extends well beyond human nutrition as every animal in the biosphere depends, directly or indirectly, on plant consumption for nutrients.”

Read Samuel Myers’ Washington Post op-ed: Climate change is sapping nutrients from our food — and it could become a global crisis

Learn more

CO2-driven nutrient loss in rice could lead to vast vitamin B deficiencies (Harvard Chan School news)

As carbon dioxide levels climb, millions at risk for nutritional deficiencies (Harvard Chan School release)