Increasing CO2 threatens human nutrition

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


  • Samuel S. Myers
  • Antonella Zanobetti
  • Itai Kloog
  • Peter Huybers
  • Andrew D B Leakey
  • Arnold J. Bloom
  • Eli Carlisle
  • Lee H. Dietterich
  • Glenn Fitzgerald
  • Toshihiro Hasegawa
  • N. Michele Holbrook
  • Randall L. Nelson
  • Michael J. Ottman
  • Victor Raboy
  • Hidemitsu Sakai
  • Karla A. Sartor
  • Joel Schwartz
  • Saman Seneweera
  • Yasuhiro Usui

Colleges, School and Institutes

External organisations

  • Harvard University
  • Harvard School of Public Health
  • Ben-Gurion University of the Negev
  • University of Illinois
  • University of California, Davis
  • Pennsylvania State University
  • Department of Environment and Primary Industries
  • National Institute for Agro-Environmental Sciences
  • University of Arizona
  • United States Department of Agriculture Agricultural Research Service
  • Nature Conservancy
  • University of Melbourne


Dietary deficiencies of zinc and iron are a substantial global public health problem. An estimated two billion people suffer these deficiencies, causing a loss of 63 million life-years annually. Most of these people depend on C 3 grains and legumes as their primary dietary source of zinc and iron. Here we report that C 3 grains and legumes have lower concentrations of zinc and iron when grown under field conditions at the elevated atmospheric CO 2 concentration predicted for the middle of this century. C 3 crops other than legumes also have lower concentrations of protein, whereas C 4 crops seem to be less affected. Differences between cultivars of a single crop suggest that breeding for decreased sensitivity to atmospheric CO 2 concentration could partly address these new challenges to global health.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)139-142
Number of pages4
Issue number7503
Publication statusPublished - 7 May 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

Sustainable Development Goals