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The Great Nutrient Collapse

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The Great Nutrient Collapse

The atmosphere is literally changing the food we eat, for the worse. And almost nobody is paying attention.

Politico Magazine,

5 min read
5 take-aways
Audio & text

What's inside?

Mounting levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere are reducing the nutrients in plants and are turning crops into junk food.

Editorial Rating



  • Scientific
  • Eye Opening
  • Hot Topic


Rising levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere are not only causing global warming, they are actively harming the Earth’s food supply by depleting the nutrients in plants. Politico Pro agriculture reporter Helena Bottemiller Evich digs deep to explain how plants are in danger of becoming junk food. The air’s elevated levels of carbon dioxide are depleting crops’ minerals and vitamins and increasing their carbohydrate content. getAbstract recommends this article to people concerned about the falling nutritional content of the food on their plates.


What experiments indicated that plants being bred for swift growth lose nutrients?

Mathematician Irakli Loladze noticed in an experiment testing the growth of algae under extra light that – although the algae grew faster and more plentifully – the zooplankton eating it were “struggling to survive.” Loladze designed a mathematical model to find out why consuming more algae did not help the zooplankton. He discovered that their nutrition was depleted. The faster-growing algae no longer provided sufficient nutrients for the zooplankton to thrive. Loladze turned his attention to how breeding plants for swift growth and high yields could affect the world’s food chain. He found that excess CO2 has a similar effect on plants as excess light; with overexposure, plants make more sugars – carbohydrates – and fewer nutrients. Scientists...

About the Author

Helena Bottemiller Evich, a senior food and agriculture reporter for Politico Pro, has covered Congress, the US Food and Drug Administration and the US Department of Agriculture.

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