CO2 is fertilizing hidden hunger

06/27/2014 - While CO2 emissions from fossil fuels are a driver of climate change with potentially negative impacts on crop yields, they are also a fertilizer for the plants. However, this effect comes at the expense of a deterioration of the current nutritional value of food, new research by the Harvard School of Public Health and others shows. This might lead to hidden hunger, researchers of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research argue in a recent commentary published in Nature Climate Change. Diets with sufficient calorie content could come with an insufficient supply of vitamins and minerals.
CO2 is fertilizing hidden hunger
Woman working in a rice field on Madagascar. Photo: Mazerand/iStock

“To improve our understanding of risks to food quality, two central challenges need to be tackled,” says lead-author Christoph Müller. “First, CO2 fertilization and its ambivalent effects on food security urgently need to be represented in computer simulations of future crop yields. Second, research has to move from a quantities-only perspective to one that includes nutritional quality.” The Intersectoral Impacts Model Intercomparison Project (ISI-MIP) coordinated by PIK as well as the Agricultural Model Intercomparison and Improvement Project (AgMIP) “could and should serve as platforms to facilitate this evolution of research,” proposes Müller. He is involved in both projects.


Weblink to the comment on hidden hunger by Müller et al:

Weblink to the study on nutritional value by Myers et al:

Weblink to ISI-MIP:

Weblink to AgMIP: