The Fight Against Global Greening – Part 2

Guest Essay by Kip Hansen

 

GG_is_bad_for_foodNote:  This is Part 2 of a four part series.  If you are not familiar with The Fight Against Global Greening – Part 1, you can either read it in its entirety and then read this, or read the introduction of Part 1 up to the line “Let’s look at #1” and then read this. — kh

Carl Zimmer of the NY Times has said “‘Global Greening’ Sounds Good. In the Long Run, It’s Terrible.”.  In collaboration with Dr. J. E. Campbell of the Sierra Nevada Research Institute, he has stated that position,  offering us these:

Bad Things About Global Greening: (quoted from Zimmer’s article)

1. “More Photosynthesis Doesn’t Mean More Food“

2. “Extra Carbon Dioxide Can Make Plants Less Nutritious”

3. “More Plants Won’t Prevent Climate Change”

4. “Global Greening Won’t Last Forever”

In Part 1, we looked at the question of the relationship between increased photosynthesis and food production (Zimmer’s #1).  Now….

Let’s Look at #2:  “Extra Carbon Dioxide Can Make Plants Less Nutritious”

Here’s what Zimmer and Campbell say:

“A number of studies indicate that plants that grow in extra carbon dioxide often end up containing lower concentrations of nutrients such as nitrogen, copper and potassium.”

As more carbon dioxide gets into the atmosphere, the problem will grow. “There’s definitely strong evidence that quality will be affected,” said Dr. Campbell.

It’s not clear why this happens. In a paper published in the journal Current Opinion in Plant Biology in June, Johan Uddling of the University of Gothenburg in Sweden and his colleagues speculated that microbes are to blame.

Just as carbon dioxide speeds up photosynthesis, it may also increase the rate at which soil microbes take up nutrients, leaving less for plants to suck in through their roots.”

If we eat food that lacks nutrients, we become more vulnerable to a host of diseases. Recently, a team of researchers at Stanford University studied how future changes to crops could affect the world’s health. The findings were grim. In Southeast Asia, for example, the researchers estimated that the rate of iron deficiency may rise from 21.8 percent to 27.9 percent by 2050. Deficiencies in iron and other nutrients could make millions of people more vulnerable to diseases including malaria and pneumonia, leading to many premature deaths.”

Getting rid of the silly part first: “microbes are to blame” — Uddling et al. state very plainly that they have no idea why the differences in (primarily) proteins are found in wheat grown under higher CO2  concentrations.  Quoting from the conclusion:  “At present, none of mechanisms and processes hypothesized can fully explain the CO2-induced declines in crop N [proteins] concentrations.”  Second silly part:  “If we eat food that lacks nutrients”…. If it has no nutrients, it is not food at all.  Every bite of food we eat has either more, the same, or less of any one “nutrient” than every other bite of food — every piece of piece of fruit has more or less nutrients than every other piece of fruit — every grain has different concentrations of nutrients than every other grain.  That there are differences in concentrations of nutrients in foods is not a cause for alarm nor does it “cause” diseases, disabilities, or vulnerabilities.  I will reveal the true causes further on.

The most important point is embodied in the claim that plants grown under enhanced  CO2  conditions  “often end up containing lower concentrations of nutrients such as nitrogen, copper and potassium.”   This is the food faddists fallacy and is responsible for a great deal of nonsense in the food and nutrition fields of science.

There are always differences in nutritional values between individual crops of any food item.  The same food item harvested from the south forty acres of my grandfather’s farm will have different nutritional qualities when compared to the same variety harvested off the north forty acres of the same farm.  This is due to the slightly differing growth conditions, water availability, soil nutrient levels, fertilization schedules, planting dates, maturity at harvest and handling of the crop after harvest.  The south forty crop may have discernibly higher percentages of certain minerals, proteins, and carbohydrates than the north forty crop.  Likewise, the north forty crop may be higher in other measures of “nutritional value”.

When a farmer grows a different variety of the same crop — say a different corn variety — then the game changes wildly.

For instance, there are currently preserved at The Crop Trust   29,401 different varieties of maize (corn to those in the United States).  Here’s an example of the effect on nutritional values of crop varieties of corn:

“Maize is the preferred staple food of more than 1.2 billion people in Sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America. However, maize-based diets, particularly those of the very poor, often lack essential vitamins and minerals. Over 50 million people in these regions are vitamin A deficient, which can lead to visual impairments, blindness and increased child mortality. The white maize eaten in much of sub-Saharan Africa contains almost no pro-vitamin A, while standard yellow maize varieties contain about 2 micrograms per gram (µg/g) – still insufficient in a diet dominated by maize. …. Scientists anticipate producing materials with the ultimate target of 15 µg/g within the next four years by using cutting edge lab tools to help select the best materials for breeding.” 

Some maize contains no pro-Vitamin A at all — another yellow variety contains some, but not enough to prevent Vitamin A deficiency alone.  Through cross-breeding maize varieties, the breeders at The Crop Trust hope to create a variety that will provide the 15 ug/g necessary to prevent Vitamin A deficiency in those for whom maize the major staple food.  We all know the story of Golden Rice — suppressed by Greenpeace and other misguided fanatics — which could eliminate Vitamin A deficiency in areas depending on rice as a staple.

In this case, the corn that is the basic food for these people has virtually no Vitamin A — another variety has a lot more — but that “a lot more” doesn’t change the public health issue, it isn’t enough to guarantee to prevent Vitamin A deficiency.  So the yellow corn is not a superfood despite having many multiples  “more” Vitamin A.  These two varieties are both insufficient…a change of plus or minus 10% or even 50% will make no difference.  Vitamin A will have to be provided by a custom-bred corn variety or from another source.

The UN’s FAO reports:

“Fruits, roots, tubers, and leafy vegetables are the main providers of provitamin A carotenoids. Because of their availability and affordability, green leafy vegetables are consumed largely by the poor populations, but their provitamin A activity has been proven to be less than previously assumed. Among fruits, mangoes constitute an important seasonal source of vitamin A. Yellow or orange sweet potatoes are rich in provitamin A. Red palm oil has a high concentration of provitamin A carotenoids (500–700 ppm/100 g). Extension of new varieties with a high content of bioavailable provitamin A and locally adapted education and counseling on the handling and storage of provitamin A sources can significantly increase the vitamin A intake of vulnerable people.”

The converse can be true as well.  In the Dominican Republic, where I served as a Humanitarian Missionary for many years, we never had to worry about Vitamin C deficiency among the poor.  The fruits that grew wild in abundance provided all the Vitamin C anyone could need.  More or less Vitamin C in the local variety of mango makes no difference — any single mango provides many times the daily requirement of Vitamin C and Vitamin A as well.  But the babies of the poverty stricken desperately needed Vitamin A supplementation — because babies don’t eat mangoes.

This is true generally, all over the world.  The small incremental differences in trace nutrients between crop varieties and between the same varieties grown in different locations is already greater than the differences seen between crops grown at various levels of atmospheric CO2.  All of this was hashed out years and years ago when the latest “scary health story” was that “modern agriculture has depleted our soils so much that food is no longer nutritious.” (Usually followed by an advertisement for vitamin and mineral supplements that far exceed the needs of any human being anywhere).

For a full and exhaustive treatment of this issue, see Mineral nutrient composition of vegetables, fruits and grains: The context of reports of apparent historical declines [pdf] by Robin J. Marles (Health Canada).

The issue is nutshelled in this quote from the Marles study:

“Contemporaneous analyses of modern versus old crop varieties grown side-by-side, and archived samples, show lower mineral concentrations in varieties bred for higher yields where increased carbohydrate is not accompanied by proportional increases in minerals – a “dilution effect”.” 

When modern crops produce more grain or fruit, through plant breeding, better agricultural methods, modern fertilizers and CO2 fertilization, the increased “food” doesn’t contain an equal, proportional, increase in minerals, vitamins, proteins and carbohydrates. Present day biology is not sure why this is.

The Bottom Line important for us from this paper is:

“The benefits of increased yield to supply food for expanding populations outweigh small nutrient dilution effects addressed by eating the recommended daily servings of vegetables, fruits and whole grains.”

Nutritional deficiencies don’t result from eating foods that “lack nutrients” — nutritional deficiencies result from poverty and the inability of people to have enough of the necessary foods to make up an adequate diet.

Nutritional deficiencies stem from not having enough to eat.  Period.

The scary  iron deficiency story from SE Asia alluded to by Zimmer in the Times — “researchers estimated that the rate of iron deficiency may rise from 21.8 percent to 27.9 percent by 2050” — is a Paris Agreement promoting piece of advocacy that assumes that the diets of the poor in these areas will remain unchanged, that there will be no advances in standards of living, food security or primary foods; no public health advances, no health education efforts;  no vitamin supplementation programs where already desperately needed — in other words, the projections are based on a “the world stands still” scenario — and  the only  variable is the “projected” generalized decline in iron concentrations in “crops”, which is based on speculation — not on the foods actually in the diets of the affected peoples.  Iron in human diets comes primarily from meats though there are good plant sources as well.  Iron deficiencies arise where diets include little or no meat due to poverty and where lack of education deprives the people of the knowledge of plant-based alternatives.  Paper @ “Anticipated burden and mitigation of carbon-dioxide-induced nutritional deficiencies and related diseases: A simulation modeling study”.

This small article in the New York Times on Vitamin A — which represents a much larger world-wide problem — exposes the simplicity of dealing with any such problem should it actually arise: “What a Little Vitamin A Could Do”.    A single liquid Vitamin A capsule squeezed into the mouth of each newborn baby averts a very high percentage of Vitamin A Deficiency caused childhood blindness.  Cost?  2 cents (less in bulk).

“Death by Diet” in today’s world is not caused by incremental differences in nutritional values of foods.  That is a myth — the same myth that, on its flip-side,  brings us “SuperFoods” and causes people to buy expensive amaranth, quinoa  and other minor “ancient” grains in preference to inexpensive and abundant wheat, rice, rye and corn.

Of course, diet is important.  But the basis of diet for a majority of the world’s people means “what we can grow or collect”; “what we can afford to buy” and “what we think we should eat”.  Herein lies the entire problem of malnutrition in the world today.  It can be  reliably solved through the process of raising standards of living for the abjectly poor, education of children (especially women who will bear the burden of making diet choices for their families) and  public health care that includes vitamin and mineral supplementation for the poor (particularly children) until their diets can be improved to meet their needs. Some of this education outreach must include agricultural methods to improve yields (which raises standard of living) and encourage the culture of a wider variety of garden items for the family diet (which eliminates vitamin and mineral deficiencies).

Senselessly worrying about small incremental changes in nutritional values of different crops under higher CO2 concentrations does not lead to any solution and does not solve the nutritional problems of the world’s poor.  Just as the “soil depletion” scare passed away under the wheels of time, so will the “CO2-induced lack of nutrients” scare pass away — it is no more significant than its food fad flip-side, SuperFoods.*

# # # # #

Author’s Comment Policy:

*  SuperFoods are a misnomer, a myth, and categorically do not prevent or cure any disease known to man.  All claims to the contrary are false.  My apologies to AARP, Dave Lieberman and Anand O”Connor (of the NY Times).  If you need dietary advice, you may have mine for free:  Eat Your Chow (meaning a normal, well-rounded diet in moderation).

I will admit to having extended family members that feel that some awful tasting concoction of blended weeds is “better for me” than a simple salad because the ingredients are said to contain “X% more” of some particular nutrient than the food I already eat.  Of course, my diet already has far more of that nutrient than my body could ever possibly use and most of it goes down the toilet with the bodies other excess and unwanted materials.  If you live in a developed nation and eat a reasonably varied diet, you will never suffer from a nutritional deficiency (well, at least until old age finally destroys your ability to absorb some specific vitamin or nutrient — which can happen).

If you live in a developing country and are reading this, you probably have a high enough standard of living that you too are in no danger of vitamin deficiency.

It is the poor that suffer diet-related illnesses and they are caused by not enough of the right foods to eat — and often — from not enough food of any kind.   Very rarely a region’s soil will be deficient in some odd trace element — but these instances of potential deficiency are well known where they occur.  Thus, many countries mandate the adding of iodine to table salt and Vitamin D to milk.

Address your comments to “Kip…” if you are speaking specifically to me and I’ll try to respond.

Thanks for reading.

# # # # #

Quick Links:

The Fight Against Global Greening – Part 1

“‘Global Greening’ Sounds Good. In the Long Run, It’s Terrible.”

speculated that microbes are to blame

The Crop Trust

Mineral nutrient composition of vegetables, fruits and grains [pdf]

Anticipated burden  of carbon-dioxide-induced nutritional deficiencies study

provitamin A

What a Little Vitamin A Could Do

SuperFoods.

# # # # #

 

Advertisements

168 thoughts on “The Fight Against Global Greening – Part 2

  1. Deficiency diseases are mostly closely related to severe poverty, like pellagra or beri-beri, associated with a very restricted diet on one deficient foodstuff. Even slightly less restricted diets, like the central American trinity of corn, beans, and squash, mostly avoid the severe deficiency diseases.
    Of course, anyone with some income will try to spend some on a better diet, like adding cheese, or meat, or whatever.

    • On the subject of corn (maize) it is not well known that during the Irish potato famine vast quantities of Indian corn a.k.a. maize were imported and distributed free to many starving Irishmen. What was not understood was that maize was deficient in many of the nutrients that potatoes were rich in. Much of the famine was the result of severe vitamin deficiency, not just of vitamin A but also vitamin C both of which potatoes provide in abundance. Understanding of dietary requirements and adequate sources of nutrients is vitally important.

      • Tom and Richard ==> The key is poverty (long- or short-term). Famines are simply widespread “not having enough to eat” — in the case of Ireland, due to the widespread failure of the potato crop.
        The distribution of corn from India is a new twist on the story that I was unaware of.

        • Queen Victoria and Prince Albert are generally given credit for at least trying to save the Irish from starvation. The most controversial part of it was buying corn, and potatoes, from countries outside the Commonwealth, but the royal family to their credit, convinced the Prime Minister to sell the idea to Parliament.

      • when your doctor gets less than a week of nutrition advice in the entire 7yrs course…dont rely on them for guidance.
        theyve just figured out salt isnt the evil theyve claimed for so long too.
        butter beats chem in a tub marg as well

      • Distribution of the potato allowed populations to literally explode, especially for rural poor.

        Corn (maize) supplies negligible Vitamin C and Vitamin A.

        Then again, cooking greatly reduces or minimizes Vitamin C and A. Which is why vitamin values for canned goods is also negligible.

        Dried corn, by itself, is less nutritious and possibly slightly toxic; especially low quality Indian maize that might have greater levels of mold or rotted corn kernels.

        Native South and North Americans practised nixtamalization where corn kernels were soaked in a lye solution. A practice that greatly increased corn’s nutritional value and digestibility, while minimizing toxins.
        e.g.

        “the levels of several essential amino acids – tryptophan, lysine, and methionine – are significantly higher”

        Nixtamalized maize is found in hominy grits, masa (corn flour used for tortillas, tamales, etc.); and of course, virtually all corn foods used in cooking anywhere south of Arkansas and many places north of Texas.

        Mohawk Corn Soup:
        https://images.media-allrecipes.com/userphotos/560×315/1088584.jpg

        • Theo ==> All good except for the crack at canned vegetables — their nutritional value is less than fresh, but not negligible. That is a nutritional myth. Frozen are better than canned too. But canned veggies are better than no veggies in the winter months.

          • Kip:
            I did not state that canned vegetables lack nutritional value. Indeed, canned foods excellently supply proteins, carbohydrates, minerals and dietary fiber.

            What I stated,

            “vitamin values for canned goods is also negligible”

            , is true.

            Canned foods require high heat under pressure to ensure keeping quality.
            Unlike commercially canned foods, home canned foods require pressure cooking under 14lbs pressure for varying lengths of time where safety overrides food quality.

            From the USDA Nutrition data base:
            Canned tomato to raw (11529 to 11693):
            Vitamins Canned Value per 100 g Diff to raw % Loss
            Vitamin C, total ascorbic acid 9.2 mg -4.5 mg -32.85%
            Thiamin 0.075 mg 0.038 mg 102.70%
            Riboflavin 0.052 mg 0.033 mg 173.68%
            Niacin 1.222 mg 0.628 mg 105.72%
            Vitamin B-6 0.15 mg 0.07 mg 87.50%
            Folate, DFE 13 µg -2 µg -13.33%
            Vitamin B-12 0 µg 0 µg
            Vitamin A, RAE 11 µg -31 µg -73.81%
            Vitamin A, IU 215 IU -618 IU -74.19%
            Vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol) 1.25 mg 0.71 mg 131.48%
            Vitamin D (D2 + D3) 0 µg 0 µg
            Vitamin D 0 IU 0 IU
            Vitamin K (phylloquinone) 5.3 µg -2.6 µg 67.09%

            Canned Potato versus raw potato
            Vitamins Canned Value per 100 g Diff to raw % Loss
            Vitamin C, total ascorbic acid 9.1 mg -4 mg -43.96%
            Thiamin 0.071 mg -0.003 mg -4.23%
            Riboflavin 0.034 mg -0.021 mg -61.76%
            Niacin 1.066 mg -0.151 mg -14.17%
            Vitamin B-6 0.203 mg -0.015 mg -7.39%
            Folate, DFE 18 µg -12 µg -66.67%
            Vitamin B-12 0 µg 0 µg
            Vitamin A, RAE 0 µg 0 µg
            Vitamin A, IU 8 IU -8 IU -100.00%
            Vitamin D (D2 + D3) 0.01 mg -0.01 µg -100.00%
            Vitamin D 0 IU

            Several of human essential amino acids can be depleted or destroyed by canning temperatures and pressure; phenylalanine, valine, threonine, tryptophan, methionine, leucine, isoleucine, lysine, and histidine.

            To preserve vitamins and amino acids, freeze or dry foods instead of canning.
            Native Americans did not suffer from scurvy or ricketts during winter as did colonists and sailors.
            Native Americans dried fruits and berries, powdered them then mixed them with powdered dried meat. This was immersed and covered with hot fat for preservation much as Europeans preserved confit and cassoulet.

            Though, I fully admit canned foods are convenient, cheap and very necessary items for every household. I keep a store of canned soups, beans, corn, green beans, peas and whatever other canned food that strikes my fancy.
            e.g. I was a devoted fan of canned El Paso tamales when the American East Coast was totally devoid of decent Southwestern cooking.
            El Paso ceased making their canned tamales and now I rely upon another maker who uses less meat; but, I keep a supply of canned tamales for when I am in a hurry.

            I have and use a pressure cooker in which I can some foods; especially tomatoes, jams and jellies. I prefer to freeze most other foods, e.g. corn, peas, green beans, snap peas, blueberries, etc.

            Keep up the great work Kip!

          • Theo ==> How can a canned veggie item lose MORE than 100% of its vitamins?
            Diff to raw — % Loss
            Riboflavin 0.052 mg 0.033 mg 173.68%

            Just curious.

            The Vitamin content of canned veggies is not “negligible” — that is a Nutrition Myth — it is just less than fresh or frozen.

            Canned veggies are an important part of a well rounded diet, particularly in poorer homes unable to afford imported, out-of-season fresh veggies or high-quality flash-frozen veggies.

          • It is not a nutrition myth, Kip. That is a baseless accusation. Vitamins and amino acids that are affected detrimentally by heat are reduced or fail to survive the canning process.
            Canned foods are thoroughly process cooked to prevent spoilage, especially Clostridium botulinum caused spoilage.

            If in doubt, then start checking your supply of canned foods and look at their vitamin content. Do not be surprised when they show 0% for all but vitamin B and it’s relatives.
            A few, e.g. tomato sauce or roasted chilis, will still have high vitamin C contents after cooking. But, not equal to fresh foods and vegetables.

            There are some differences in modern canning production. Some foods are amenable to point sterilization using methods similar to milk pasteurization processing. Most of these point pasteurization processed foods have relatively short “use by” time frames. Modern processing allows some canned foods to receive boosts of sterile vitamins to replace heat caused losses. Most canned foods though, are processed in higher temperature water baths under pressure for long periods of time.

            Vitamin B and relatives and their precursors are fairly stable to heat. Cooking can and does change or even increases vitamin B and VB relatives content.

            Scurvy, a Not-So-Ancient Disease
            “The patient was malnourished, with hypoalbuminemia 2.7 g/dL (N 3.4-5 g/dL). Upon further questioning, he reported daily consumption of 12 beers for several decades and a diet consisting mainly of canned foods. A presumptive diagnosis of vitamin C deficiency was made, and empiric 1 g intramuscular vitamin C was administered. Ecchymoses and purpura improved within 3 days. Labs drawn prior to initiation of treatment subsequently confirmed a deficiency in vitamin C with levels <0.1 mg/dL (N 0.2-2 mg/dL) as well as vitamin A, vitamin D, zinc, and folate deficiencies. Vitamin E, B12, copper, and selenium were normal. On discharge, the patient was provided with multivitamin and mineral supplements."

            If, a big if, one eats enough cans of food, those tiny amounts of remaining vitamins will prevent vitamin deficiency diseases.

            The 173% is my formula mistake and should show 273% and it represents an increase. My apologies, as I thought I had fixed that column’s formulas before posting.

            Riboflavin started with 0.019 mg/per 100 grams in the fresh tomatoes and ended with 0.052 mg/per 100 grams canned foods.

            Vitamin C started with 13.7 mg/per 100 grams in the fresh tomatoes and ended with 9.2 mg/per 100 grams canned foods.

            Vitamin A IU started with 833 IU per 100 grams in the fresh tomatoes and ended with 215 IU/per 100 grams canned foods.

            Vitamin E started with 0.52 mg/per 100 grams in the fresh tomatoes and ended with 1.25 mg/per 100 grams canned foods. I did not look up why Vitamin E levels increased.

            The longer that canned foods require processing under pressure and heat, e.g. meats, the less Vitamins D & C remain.

            From: “Sailors’ scurvy before and after James Lind–a reassessment

            “For centuries, many sailors, some ships’ doctors, but few university-trained physicians cured and prevented scurvy with oranges and lemons. James Lind in 1753 described his prospective controlled therapeutic trial of 1747, but I do not consider his report entirely reliable. Nevertheless, Lind’s books stimulated Thomas Trotter and Gilbert Blane to persuade the British Navy in 1793 to abolish scurvy by compulsory lemon juice, only for it to reappear after 1860, especially in polar regions,when lime juice was substituted. In the last hundred years scurvy was shown to be a deficiency of an essential food factor, and this vitamin C was characterized as ascorbic acid that could at last both prevent and cure scurvy”

            Scurvy was encountered again, in polar explorations and during both world wars. Even as canned foods formed substantial portions of their diets.
            WWII includes when dispensing vitamin C via ascorbic acid tablets normally prevents scurvy; however scurvy risks increase as time and humidity decrease ascorbic acid content of a ships/armies stocks.

            Why is scurvy so hard to control?

            “Lind was well aware that it was impractical to carry citrus fruits on long sea voyages because, as Woodall noted, “oranges and lemons are liable to spoil”, as indeed would lemon juice. Lind therefore devised a system of almost boiling purified citrus juice, so that 24 oranges or lemons were reduced to a few ounces, and he claimed the juice of dozen fruits put into a quart bottle could be effective for several years.
            Hughes (correctly) joined others in asserting that Lind’s rob (from the Arabic robb and Persian rob = fruit syrup) was later shown to be ineffective in preventing scurvy (now known because he had boiled the heat-labile ascorbic acid), and (correctly) that Lind was unscientific in presenting no evidence for his rob, merely “by my own experience”,“the most incontestable experience”, “remains good for several years”, and “preserving their virtues for years”. Lind, in further editions of his book, maintained his belief in the efficacy of what was named in his 3rd edition as rob, until in the 1778 edition of his Health of Seamen he reformulated his syrup of lemons. Sound lemons are squeezed, the juice is filtered (but not boiled), put into small bottles no bigger than a pint, and olive oil poured into the neck of the bottle that is then corked and sealed – the precise system devised by Platt in 1607.”

            Later versions of vitamin C efficacious lemon and later lime juice were preserved by the addition of brandy.

      • Contrary to potatoes, cereals (wheat, maize) are amino acid incomplete. That’s worse than the lack of vitamins. If animal protein is available there’s not much of an issue, else cereals will make things worse even if enough calories are present. People will have deficiencies of which two contradictory manifestations exist, emaciation and obesity (see Gary Taubes, Good calories, bad calories).

    • A book indispensable to this discussion is Weston A. Price’s 1938 classic, “Nutrition and Physical Degeneration.” He traveled the world to find isolated peoples who had yet to switch to the refined, denatured foods of industrial civilization, and what he discovered is mind-blowing. Without exception, every culture eating exclusively the native foods of the region in which they evolved had perfect teeth, non-existent cancer, heart disease or diabetes, universal fertility and easy childbirth. The “deficiency diseases” and “diseases of modern civilization” hit them like a brick wall within FIVE years of adopting white flour, sugar, and everything made with them. Of course, the book was written in the time of eugenics, so it isn’t PC, but it’s highly recommended reading for anyone truly interested in the whole context of all nutritional subjects.

    • Every civilization that survived and flourished had in common the utilization of animal-sourced foods high in essential minerals, amino acids, etc. not found in land plants. Depending on location, they ate high-fat dairy pastured on fast-growing green pasture in season, as well as cheese and butter made from it; all kinds of seafood including fish eggs and seaweed, and organ meats from animals. These people enjoyed superior health, vitality and even longevity to what we think of “normal” today. Ref.: “Nutrition and Physical Degeneration,” Weston A. Price.

  2. The “less nutritious” lie is absolute, antihuman lunacy.

    More CO2 of course means more crops. It also means more sugar relative to amino acids, but only if there be no more nitrogen.

    If N be increased, then more CO2 also means more amino acids, ie “protein”.

    Of all the lies told by the CACA proponent enemies of humanity, this is one of the most scurrilous.

    • From my reading some while ago on greenhouse crop growing, reduced protein (nitrogen), minerals, and other nutrients under CO2 enhancement have been know about for a long time. The primary, perhaps only, cause is less water use by the plants grown with more CO2. Nitrogen, minerals, and the components of anything else provided by the soil rather than the air and sunlight, come into the plant largely with the water. With less water use, there is less of these materials in the plants to make the nutrients. It has thus been the practice to increase the soil concentration of nitrogen, calcium, trace minerals, and whatever else is need above the soil preparation used for non-CO2 enhanced growing.

      The article I read was in no way related to AGW or any other type of climate change. It was just about the practice of growing crops in greenhouses. This not being an subject in which I have any background, I can’t say that it wasn’t a fantasy but there was nothing there to make me believe it was trying to deceive or mislead anyone.

      • Andy,

        OK, only because my stock in trade is crops, I’ll reply, despite the support of this site for Willis’ self-serving pro-Communist lies and drivel, pathetically trying to justify his desertion from the US Army during the Vietnam War.

        Here is the reality. Photosynthesis in land plants is hydrogen from water from the ground combining with CO2 from the air to make glucose, the sugar upon which plants rely for energy and structure.

        More CO2 means less loss of water from plants’ stomata.

        So, more CO2 means more carbohydrate, ie sugar, in crop plants. But “protein”, ie amino acids, requires nitrogen. So with N held the same, there will naturally be more carbohydrate per unit of seed than under CO2 starvation regimes.

        The obvious answer is to increase N along with increased carbon dioxide.

        It’s so simple, a cave man could understand it, which lets out “climate scientists”.

          • Hey Kip! This is the teacher that sometimes uses your stuff for class again. I’m no longer teaching chemistry and physics, I’m teaching what I love now: Agriculture. I can actually use my education and experience to educate kids.

            This thread of comments has me thinking… I’ve not had time to read the linked studies but is there a comparison of leguminacea to non legumes? Even non-legumes need a healthy diversity of soil microbes to affect bioavailability of macro and micro nutrients.

          • PRDJ ==> Read the two studies:
            Mineral nutrient composition of vegetables, fruits and grains
            and
            Anticipated burden of carbon-dioxide-induced nutritional deficiencies study
            (see quick Links at the end of the essay).
            I don’t remember that they specifically covered legumes and non-legumes.

          • Kip — re the “dilution effect”. One possibility. More CO2 encourages the production of carbohydrates — starch and sugars — roughly — 6CO2 + 5H2O C6H10O5 … + 6O2. So, we have a plant that produces 200 grams of grain.per plant 198 grams of starch and 2 grams of “nutrients”. We enhance the CO2. Now we get 250 grams of grain – 248 grams of starch and 2 grams of “nutrients”. Greater yield.

            But we buy and sell food by weight (OK, mass if you want to be picky) because that translates more or less directly to calories. So a meal of our CO2 enhanced grain contains about as many calories as the traditional grain. But it has fewer nutrients.

            Who knows. Could be true.

          • Kip
            I’m sure you know that the literature (and human experience) on nutrition and medicine is vast, much too much to address in any detail here. It is difficult to choose only a few examples from so many that exist. Your references may be good but also consider just a few of very many reports that are misleading. I am not here espousing any particular side of any controversy, just pointing out how reports sometime go.

            Not long ago there was an article here about the wide spread concerns of a type of pesticide killing off bees. A consortium of manufacturers funded a completely hands off study of several years duration, involving several hundred test plots in at least five different countries, each with its own control plot as I understood what I read. This pesticide is one used mainly or only on the seeds (yet apparently effective for the entire growing season) so it is not sprayed on the fields to get onto the many insect and birds that do not eat the crops.

            The funding was hands off in terms of all experimental procedures and the eventual reporting of results — except that the research organization was required to copy all procedures and data to the funders.

            The eventual published report identified several problems that markedly reduced bee populations. This is what much of the world probably still knows and believes.

            The funders then made all of the data freely available for anyone to analyze. As reported on WUWT, It turns out that only a tiny percentage of the data supported the report conclusions to any degree what so ever. Also, all of those particular cases involved confounding conditions — such as national government agricultural data revealing that the particular bee problem reported was epidemic in that region of the country while not effecting bees elsewhere.

            The research firm failed to disclose that something like 98% of their data gave no support at all to their conclusions nor that most or all of the identified problem conditions were the same in both the related experimental and control plots while not appearing in other plots.

            Many years ago I read something by Linus Pauling on his advocacy of larger quantities of vitamin C. He claimed it could prevent (and quickly treat) colds and, I believe, various other viral infections.

            He made a number of very specific statements. I not sure I remember all of them from so long ago but I do remember that he declared that the benefits started only with 2 to 3 grams of vitamin C per day (and the quantity should be considerably more for specific needs). He wrote that taking vitamin C tablets was useless because not enough could be absorbed from the pure chemical by the digestive system. The vitamin needs to either come from eating enough high content vic C food or be injected into a vein.

            Later I ran across a journal article that boldly proclaimed the authors had completely disproved Pauling’s claims (the specifics of which they did not discuss or report). Their experiments ran for a month or so. The control group took no vitamin C supplements. The experimental group took one 60 mg (the RDA at that time) tablet per day. They reported no difference in the incidents of colds.

            That puts me in mind of a report on the Medieval Warm period discussed is some climate blog not terribly long ago. A journal report declared proof that the MWP was not a world wide event. An ice core from the Antarctic peninsula showed no indication of warming during that time.

            The blog analysis of their report revealed the data from 12 to 15 other ice cores from the peninsula — cores not mentioned in said journal article. All but two of the ice cores (one of those was the one reported in the journal article) show clear indications of a large temperature increase during the MWP although there are some differences among those as to how much warming and exactly when within that period they peaked. The ice core reported on by the warmists authors was not even new data if I recall but something done years earlier.

            A little closer to the food adequacy topic is a video, labeled a debate but containing no actual debating, on vitamin D levels. Several individual who serve as the US Medical Board or some such appointed office were on one side. They were said to be a little know background agency (I never heard of them and don’t know if that was the actual name) that is responsible for much of the recommenced procedures and drug usage supported by the federal government and thus for most of the establishment medical practice.

            They reported that their extensive reading of the research literature led them to conclude that blood levels of 20 to 30 ng/ml was adequate and that perhaps 30 was pushing the upper bound of safety (for which they offered no explanation or evidence). 400 units per day intake was enough for many (but not all) people to have that level.

            The other side was several medical researchers who are using large dosages of vitamin D to successfully treat various conditions (which include some psychological disorders, not just physical conditions). They expressed amazement at the conclusions expressed as there are hundreds of journal articles detailing clinical experience that say larger amounts are beneficial and there are conditions which appear to be related to whether or not the viamin D level has been high enough for many years preceding any ill health. Also healthy active individuals who live in climates southern enough to get enough UBV to manufacture adequate amounts (which is not most of the USA), and who actually spent enough time unshaded from the sun have blood levels 4 to 5 times that amount. No toxicity or detrimental symptoms have ever been detected in tested individuals.

            The other side replied that they are well aware of the literature but they only make their recommendations based on experiments that follow strict FDA guidelines. The rest is only noise for their purposes.

            The researchers replied that there were no FDA approved studies of larger amounts of vitamin D. Almost all of the FDA type studies used only 400 units per day, a few 800 units per day. Beneficial results are coming from 5,000, 10,000 even 50,000 units per day (plus often taken with a few other nutrients believed to be necessary to properly utilize vitamin D).

            The Medical Board people said they could only do what they could do. So, even well intentioned reports can have strong biases.

        • While that is true for most businesses based on greenhouse growing, and that is exactly what seems to be done in commercial greenhouses — based on that article, for a billion or two people living on small plots, and still able to obtain only primitive tools in many cases, increasing the soil nitrogen is far from a simple solution. Compounding that difficulty is the case that a great many of them probably have no idea of how to go about it or even know that there might be specific needs.

    • rodale and others have done many decades of soil resarch on standard and organic etc
      Albrecht way back in the 20s n 30s established soil/plant research sations with your ag mobs. serious work and it supports poor soil health gets poor and sickly plants, animals and people . garbage in garbage out stands here too.
      UNLESS you feed the garbage to worms First;-) and add some minerals;-)

    • Its the same rediculous mindset that says we’ll make the Diesel motor 25% less efficient and 50% more expensive to control a miniscule amount of soot and oxides of nitrogen.

      My own truck doubled in power and efficiency when I took out the pollution controls.

      This article highlights the LACK OF PERSPECTIVE that the ivory tower activist scientists and journalists exhibit.

  3. With Roundup almost all our food is deficient in nutrients. This is additive to endemic mercury detox. This is agenda 21 via “magnesium depletion ” and what it does to your immune system.

    • Human magnesium requirements are quite low and any green plant will provide most of it, the remainder comes from small amounts of meat. Chlorophyll is a magnesium containing molecule.

      • what the med mob reckons ok and others have worked out vary
        a dr sircus has an interesting webpage on minerals/magnesium you might read.
        the proposition that borderline vitamins is enough might be questioned, and is, by many.

    • Terry…. good luck. They are just as religious on the topic of GMO/Vaccines as the left is with big government/CAGW. They are just as hypocritical and you can expect downvotes. Other side of the same coin. Sadly, these people should be more logical than the left but they just won’t shake their religion. Faith in the state/regulators who rubber stamp approval through collusionary practices with big pharma/ big Ag… talk about hypocrisy. They think “science” can solve everything and that natural immunity through natural healthy food with naturally derived vitamins is something for Neanderthals or something.
      They will never, under and circumstances, recant their position. it honestly isn’t worth debating them.

  4. To me, the most egregious and perhaps saddest thing about this article is that both of these authors know better. Neither Carl Zimmer nor Dr. Campbell are dumb. They are both quite accomplished, so they have to know this nonsense is pure BS. I just wonder how much money (and peer pressure) it took for them to sell their integrity.

    • Louis ==> I agree — I suspect that Zimmer came under pressure just as Andy Revkin, ex-NY Times, did back a number of years ago (the story became public in the ClimateGate emails).

      • Maybe he simply talked to Campbell, who believed the results of his study were being misinterpreted and misused, and it had nothing to do with pressure from others.

        The title of Zimmer’s article is terrible, but it’s possible he had little control over it.

        I don’t know the answers, I’m just providing a different perspective. That’s what I do.

  5. “We all know the story of Golden Rice — suppressed by Greenpeace and other misguided fanatics — which could eliminate Vitamin A deficiency in areas depending on rice as a staple.” — I don’t feel sorry to say that it is a foolish observation. I not only published articles in technical conferences and newspapers but directly interacted the scientists involved in the development of Golden Rice from IRI Phillipines in Hyderabad, India. They invited me for discussion on the introduction of Golden Rice in India saying that the technology will be given free of cost. Scientists from UK found that the A Vitamin in the Golden Rice more harmful than the normal food as it contains excessive A Vitamin. This is a GMO.

    In India there are several stapple food crop varieties that contain A Vitamin. ICRISAT scientists using these tradition crop seeds developed Pearl Millet seeds that contain Vitamin A within the safe limits.

    The GMO companies are dumping GM food in India illegally — no lables. GM cotton seed oil is illegally produced and sold by the agents of GM companies. They bribe the officials and politicians for serving their criminal activities in India.

    Dr. S. Jeevananda Reddy

    • Dr. Reddy,

      How does GM cotton seed oil, illegal or legal, harm people?

      Please state why you think that golden rice is bad.

      Thanks!

      • Government gives approval to produce oil but if the government did not approve the oil, it is illegal. Approval is based on scientific evaluation of its health hazards. If any body producing such oil are punishable under law but to escape the punishment they produce and sell illegally by not telling it is GM. If GM oil is good for health, they should show the same for the approving authority and get clearances. In the case of Bt Cotton no such approvals were obtained. You support such acts???

        Golden Rice is bad in terms of colour, in terms of rice quality for eating, and researchers proved it is unhealthy food — it is GM food. Because of such traits, unlike other GM companies, come forward to give the seed technology free. In India, when I was a child we used to grow paddy variety [traditional] and eat that rice. Now scientists have developed fine varieties and we are eating that. That means the Golden Rice means we have to go back by 100 years. Also, the fodder is unsuitable for animal feed. That means no sale value for rice and fodder. So, when we have excellent non-GM food of rice why should anybody chose GM food. Organic farming have shown the high yields over chemical input rice that is health hazardous — GM also works under chemical inputs only.

        I travelled Mozambique and Ethiopia [one is southern hemisphere and another in northern hemisphere] and have seen the cropping patterns. In Mozambiques. In my publication Agroclimate of Mozambique as Relevant to Dry-Land Agriculture, Serie Terra E Agua, Cominicacao No. 47, 1986, Mozambique, figure on page 50 presents the traditional crops grown — paddy, maize, sorghum, pearl millet, cassava, beans, groundnut, cotton. The cropping pattern over different parts vary with the soil and climate. Thus, the food habits are quite different over different parts of Mozambique. The neighbouring Malavi also produces groundnut. In the case of Ethiopia, the stapple food is Tef. In the southern part sorghum, maize, perlmillets, beans are grown with highly variable rains based on soil condition; in the north on one side coffee and on the otherside barley, wheat, tef are grown and in the central part around Addis Ababa Tef is the main crop. So, based on the region, the food habits vary.

        Dr. S. Jeevananda Reddy

        • Dr. Reddy,

          What are these health hazards of which you speak, without any citation?

          How is GM any different from selective breeding of food crops?

          Sorry, but your screed sounds lunatic.

          • Genetics is not my area but it seems considerably more difficult to get genes from totally different sources into selectively bred plants when none of the plants of that type contain the gene to begin with. The gene that makes the vit A material in golden rice comes from carrots. Do yoo know how to cross breed rice with carrots?

          • Andy,

            Clearly you’re correct that genetics isn’t your area.

            The vitamin A genes in golden rice come from three different other species, none of which is carrot. So what?

            We humans have many genes from bacteria.

          • My point is that GM is not the same as selective breeding, not whether GM it is good or bad. Clearly genes developed by separate organism can come together, over generally very long time periods, and probably most easily through “infectious” means via bacteria, virus, and other very small beasties. However, simply seeing that one type of cow breeds with another, or making different celery plants mix pollen, is quite limited relative to deliberately inserting some specific trait gene from one source into another species that has nothing similar in its evolutionary background. Celery is almost certain to “ignore” tomato pollen, no matter what the farmer might wish. GM is a way to get something new that the selective breeding will not accomplish.

          • monsanto themselves had to admit that their so called precise insertions…werent.
            and from the original splicing to the bred seed sold and the crop produced when sweden(one example) actually tested the crops they found they had little if any of the genes in the places they were said to be
            which amused me greatly
            as, while monmen claimed patent to a SPECIFIC gene array what theyve claimed as theirs..actually was not.
            now the super precise CRISPR cas 9 tech has also been found to not just bond to specifc areas but oops a daisy manage to bond elsewhere and create very unexpected and unknown results to the dna seems they checked bonding to ?7 or 8? places and assumed a bit.
            now theyre going to reassess CRISPR ca 12 or something .

            traditional or natural crosses that proved viable were genes that nature found acceptable to allow and yes some of them may have been harmful to whatever ate them;-)
            the survivors learnt to avoid them pdq or died out i guess, others experimented or watched the animals and found way to treat the food so it could be eaten ie nuts that make you crook raw but ok when processed roasted boiled soaked etc

        • Dr Reddy
          Does this mean “they” simply need to go back and develop a “tasty” GMO rice that will feed more people?
          If I were starving, would the “taste” of any food available be that critical?

          • There is no need to go for GMOs to achieve what you say. Through traditional technology you can achieve the quality and quantity humans wanted. Indian progressive farmers achieved remarkably high yields even better than Golden Rice — why multinational companies dump such technologies in developing countries when they have better technologies to feed the population — and with quality food and received international awards too. But government agencies patronising multinational companies — take bribes — and scientists to get lucrative jobs in multinational companies. These agencies collected germplasm of traditional crops and stored in their gene banks and dump GMOs and started destroying the natural seeds in developing countries. If you want support them, you can do it.

            If you want monopolize and create a system that creates more new diseases in to the environment you go for GMO. In India so far the only crop approved for commercial cultivation is Bt-Cotton. Even before Bt-cotton was approved by the Indian government in 2002, the company produced the seed illegally [brought in to India illegally and produced illegally] and released after official approval. On this we filed a petition in the High Court detailing all negative aspects that affect severely Indian agriculture. in 2003 — while the case is in court our advocate was purchased by the seed company. In 13 years Bt changed three times — survival capacity is low with new pests and diseases entered the agriculture system that affected neighbouring farmers fields. Now in USA the court case related to GB-II & GB-III, not approved by Indian government but they are illegally cultivated and harming neighbouring farmers.

            Even in USA when Bt-cotton was approved, they clearly specified not to commercialize in southern parts of USA where traditional cotton is grown as pollen interact with traditional seed and destroy the traditional one. This is a warmer zone. GMOs are grown in colder regions where regeneration is not possible. Developing countries do not fit in to this, that is why they were not allowed.

            GMO are not good basically because (1) it affects the agriculture system and traditional seeds; (2) introduces new pests and diseases; (3) this works only under chemical input technology under irrigation and as a result under high investments, with weather playing spoilsport, farmers committing suicides — rampent; (4) as a food the multinationals have not showed the public how safe they are — developing countries have no infrastructure to to study them as it is high investment — multinationals get profits but government has to spend money to study. What is the need. Let them use in their own countries instead of dumping on some poor countries with disastrous consequences — you can come and see the scenarion in BT cotton growing states.

            The questions raised on my post looks like a man throwing a stone on the mud water. If somebody comes to India, we provide plenty of material — some of these are available onlines from several groups.

            Dr. S. Jeevananda Reddy

          • I’d be more concerned with the widespread adulteration of foodstuffs in India, than GMO bogeymen.

          • Adam Gallon ==> Basic food safety and hygiene are far more important than any of the imaginary dangers of GMOs.

          • Dr. S, thank you for your continued efforts. At least there are a few people on this site with direct expertise to battle back the zombie mindset when it comes to GMO’s.
            Though they have eyes, but will not see.

      • India is a guinea pig for GMO crops (and new vaccines)
        Putting cash into the pockets of corrupt officials to use people as lab rats is not good.
        Does one need to actually spell out the risks in being a lab rat for new GMO products (without your consent or knowledge)?

        India exports agricultural products to Europe. I wonder how much GMO has come in via that route.

          • And animals.

            The horror of turning wolves into dogs, ibexes into goats and long legged wild sheep into wool producers with short legs. Among other Frankensteinian horrors.

            Never mind that every organism on the planet has whole chunks of its genome from other organisms.

          • It’s not the same thing! In traditional plant breeding you don’t rip genes from one species and force them into another.

          • Don,

            Clearly, you haven’t done any breeding of plants, fungi, animals or microbes.

            What in your opinion is bad about, for instance, humans borrowing at least an eighth of our genome from other organisms?

          • we evolved that way .the inclusions that didnt prove good caused death
            we STILL have the same issues with defective genetics
            but we now save the sickly and defective
            nature wouldnt.
            generations of small hipped women needing caesarians to produce a child passing that same problem onto the kids unless dads mums genes manage to alter it.
            thats not good.
            we wouldnt consider breeding bad genetic stock but we do it to ourselves?

          • Theo,

            Please clarify the point about humans borrowing at least an eighth of our genome from other organisms.

            Thanks.

          • No. . They use a mutagenic chemical like colchacine to force millions of mutations. They then examine the survivors to see if some of them have desirable characteristics. GM is a much safer way to produce new varieties.

            When our Neolithic ancestors decided which crops to domesticate, they didn’t carry out double blind trials to examine the long term consequences.

          • That is only one way to look for new varieties and that is actually closer to the older style of traditional techniques. Newer methods typically use genetic engineering (molecular biology/cloning) methods to insert specific genes in specific locations.

          • In traditional breeding, you don’t know what you get. You are mixing the entire genetic material – many thousands of genes from two different species. With GMO, you are deliberately only putting in one or a few genes of known function. In both cases, there may be some small surprises, but neither one is dangerous. And if the foods are tested, what is the problem?
            With traditional breeding you sometimes get sterile species, even though the product (mules, for example) may be useful.

          • “many thousands of genes from two different species”

            The traditional definition of different species is that they cannot interbreed. There has been some loosening of precision with anti-people environmental zeal to call a rare rat with a stripe a different species from the many rats that don’t have a stripe (thus requiring economic destruction of a region in order to save the strip from possible decline), even though the different rats can interbreed freely, but there in no way selective breeding can produce many of the results possible with GM, at least on a human time scale.

          • “The traditional definition of different species is that they cannot interbreed.”

            This is the simplistic, high school definition.

            “There has been some loosening of precision with anti-people environmental zeal” No, it has nothing to do with that, and everything to do with evolutionary biology. Many, many species can interbreed but don’t often do so under “normal” circumstances – for instance, their ranges don’t overlap. However, humans have changed the landscape and moved species around, so that species that wouldn’t have interbred sometimes do so now.

          • Bill_W_1984,
            The problem is matter of trust. We don’t trust you (GMO creators) to not screw up. We don’t trust you not to purposely poison us. We just don’t trust.

          • Don, in traditional methods, you expose the seeds to known mutagens. Grow the crops and then determine if something useful came from it.
            With GMO you target specific genes and only change those genes.

            PS: Why the horror at inserting genes from different species?

          • To execute on that strategy you need to assume you understand completely the function of those genes within the organism. We don’t! This is very similar scientifically to modelling climate, wherein assumptions of complete knowledge are made which affect the conclusions.
            The difference is we don’t eat the climate.

          • straw man!
            theyre NOT tampered with
            each branch will produce it original species of fruit.
            and they HAVE to be related you cant graft apple to apricot
            plum and apricot will sometimes produce plumcot from a plam rootstock and apricot graft
            I had bought Medlars grafted onto quince rootstock (without realising)
            the quince overtook the medlar and now i have bushy nonproducing anything quince things!

          • bullshit.
            trad breeding is often just a crossing of two very similar strains of a stable crop and the majority are still a dud as theyre a one show pony hybrid .that seed wont breed true.
            the only multiple x i know that breeds true is triticale. and im not sure for how long.
            that was bad enough to force extra expense every year to buy in seed.
            ok you get hybrid vigour for one good harvest. thats it, show over.
            adding chem resistance and the rquirement for chem added to keep the stuff growing and the repeat sprays to kill weeds that really werent an issue ie low growing ones that dont get into headers anyway that also brought up nutrient and kept soil moist and if well tilled before planting were kept in check by the desired seed getting up first and producing natural pheromones to deter other seeds from sprouting
            auxins.
            certain weeds are an indicator of what the soil has to excess and also what minerals it lacks
            you can adjust that with minerals and change what will grow.
            Weed Control without poison
            Charles Walters
            an american who deserves wider fame sadly passed on

          • oz ==> Name calling is not acceptable here. Differences of opinion are expected, but this is not the place for angry ‘tweenaged name-calling — it is not a schoolyard squabble.

          • That is nonsense. Traditional breeding doesn’t introduce genetics from completely unrelated species. This potentially has unknown consequences. That is why the application is regulated. So now we trust that the regulation is adequate and no companies will do an end run via falsified studies or back door arrangements or good old-fashioned error.
            The history of human greed suggests that is a bad policy foundation.
            For evidence check out “Climate Science”.

          • Anything that can be misused must be banned because we can’t trust people.
            Well there goes everything more complicated than rocks.

          • MarkW ==> I beg to differ….rocks are a very dangerous environmental problem — they are the first weapons to used by unruly mobs stirred up by terrorists, for instance, and should be banned except in National Parks.

    • In plants, vitamin A comes mainly as a precursor from which your body makes what you use. For there to be a harmful amount there would have to be a tremendous amount. I’ve only read of one food source with potentially toxic amounts of vitamin A — polar bear liver — and that is end product vitamin A, not at all like what one gets from plants.

      Some anti golden rice propaganda says exactly the opposite, that the amount in the rice isn’t really enough to help much. Therefore, in their opinion, people on deficient diets should not have access to that insufficient amount — in spite of it being more than they would get otherwise. You parse the logic.

    • see my two articles: (1) Is biotechnology a Gateway of Environmental Destruction?, National Seminar on “Recent advances in biotechnology and biometrics”, July 2006, pp.133-147, MGNIRSA, Hyderabad; (2) Biotechnological approaches impact on natural heritage & health, “Genome Analysis Perspective in the Post-Genomic Era and its relevance to Society”, MGNIRSA, Hyderabad, India, 2007, pp.86-99.

      These articles can provide answers to GMO friends.

      Dr. S. Jeevananda Reddy

    • Dr. Reddy ==> You will have to provide some specific reference for “Scientists from UK found that the A Vitamin in the Golden Rice more harmful than the normal food as it contains excessive A Vitamin. This is a GMO.”
      Golden Rice has NEVER been found “harmful” anywhere in the world to my knowledge. I believe that this is a pernicious rumor spread by anti-GMO fanatics.

      • Even if it did, which I doubt, the solution would be to mix Golden Rice with some amount of regular rice before consuming.

        I do find it fascinating how in this thread we have one person claiming that Golden Rice doesn’t have enough vitamin A to make a difference, and another person claiming it has so much as to make it dangerous.

        • MarkW ==> The general science is that Golden Rice may not contain enough (or as much as claimed ) beta-carotene — there has been no finding anywhere that it contains “too much”.
          Note that Reddy seems to be confused — foods do not contain Vitamin A (except as an additive) — they contain pro-Vitamin A, vitamin precursors, like beta-carotene, which is what makes most veggies orange and orangy-red — like carrots and sweet potatoes. The human body uses beta-carotene to makes Vitamin A. When contained in foods, it is not possible to eat “too much” beta-carotene.
          Vitamin A is one of the vitamin supplements of which it is possible to “take too much”. From the NIH “Getting too much preformed vitamin A (usually from supplements or certain medicines) can cause dizziness, nausea, headaches, coma, and even death. High intakes of preformed vitamin A in pregnant women can also cause birth defects in their babies. Women who might be pregnant should not take high doses of vitamin A supplements.”

          • Sorry Kip — there is no confusion, as I said earlier there are several traditional crops contain A Vitamin. Also, I said ICRISAT developed peal millet without GM technology contain A Vitamin by crossing with traditional seed containing A Vitamin. You read, first, findings in this area before pouring your venom on others.

            Dr. S. Jeevananda Reddy

      • Sorry Kp — like all others [like warmists] you use the same boggy.

        The UK report was published years back, on this media discussions also took place. You try on internet you get the information.

        It is not a rumor by fanatics. It is a scientific finding.

        Without the comprehensive knowledge on the subject, don’t write such articles, please.

        Dr. S. Jeevananda Reddy

        • Dr. Reddy ==> You fail to supply any real data or real references.

          You fail to acknowledge that Golden Rice does not, and never did, contain Vitamin A — certainly, with no Vitamin A at all, it could not “contains excessive A Vitamin” as you claim in your comment –> https://wattsupwiththat.com/2018/08/15/the-fight-against-global-greening-part-2/#comment-2430353

          Golden Rice has been created to contain beta-carotene — a precursor to the human body’s manufacture of Vitamin A. Your failure to understand this undermines my confidence in your memory of some “years back” single study that contradicts the larger body of research on Golden Rice.

          I understand that you are opposed to GMOs….but that does not give you license to play loose with facts and references.

          You may use the list found here — References — in support of my position.

          Feel free to supply your references to refute this representative sample of the literature on Golden Rice.

      • Kip –> “anti-GMO fanatics”

        Didn’t you just berate ozspeakup for name-calling?
        Which he didn’t do, btw.

    • FDA bounced golden rice claims as by the time its sored and cooked the values are marginal to not able to show any value to the cost and claims.
      give free?
      for a limited time i remember then costs apply
      and sales OF ot would attract price hike they always do.
      the poor cant afford normal rice
      its the poverty not the product eaten
      they cant afford to eat.

      • oz ==> There are a lot of silly rumors about Golden Rice being spread by opponents of GMOs. The anti-Golden Rice effort is similar to this topic of this essay, which is the Fight Against Global Greening — they fight a Good Thing because they are against some related issue (AGW).
        Worldwide, the lack of Vitamin A in children’s diets is a HUGE public health issue — and anything that’s aids in its correction is worthwhile. Changing the rice variety grown by the poor is a simple, sensible approach — but the Good Thing has been overwhelmed by the insanity of the anti-GMO battle.

        • Rhetoric observations. I myself questioned the scientist involved in the development of Golden Rice from IRI, an Indian. Like global warming groups you became golden rice group. First collect the information on Golden Rice by the world media.

          Dr. S. Jeevananda Reddy

        • Kip,

          The fight is not against global greening. The fight is against using global greening as a justification for not doing anything to curb CO2 emissions, and against erroneous ideas about the extent of benefits of greening.

      • I enjoy watching this conversation since I’m interested but not deeply knowledgeable. For all of the pro-GMO people here, I notice that you have not specifically responded to Dr. Reddy’s points, specifically about previously having good solutions, the need for additional (fertilizers?) for the GMOs and other points. It should be on the GMO proponents to prove safety and crop reliability, not on others to disprove it, especially given the horrible health track record of industrial food. Can anyone cite any long-term health studies that specifically test the GMOs, preferably in humans, but even in rodents over the full course of their lives?

        • superchunk ==> This is not an essay about GMOs — and the “discussion” is anti-GMO advocates spreading nonsense and some people, few really knowledgeable, responding. Read some real science about GMOs — not here.

          • Kip, “natural” foods are basically C-H-O with lesser nitrogen, sulphur and trace minerals. What is the difference in chemical comp between a tomato and a GMO tomato? Heck we take it apart with HCL in our stomachs and distribute it around. They put a salmon gene in a cucumber and its okay to have a salmon and cuke sandwich. I’m 80 and still sampling the stuff with no discernible problems. I have no urge to swim upstream and fertilize fish eggs yet. Am I trusting basic chemistry to much?

            Heck the shelves are full of dubious processed and artificial foods with a shelflife of 50yrs, drinks for which no fruits were harmed (example: Kool Aid), medications for acne with warnings of suddenly dropping dead… and no one seems exercised. The reason they fuss about GMO and Roundup is they are Malthusian misanthropists and dont want to have abundant nutritious foods. The Greening for these people is a disaster – because of its effect on tipping the cost benefit balance in CO2s favor and of course the upset over the end famines.

            Fracking also is in this category. All the phony damages etc., never mind that fracking has been done since the 1860s, only they used much more dangerous, explosives right up to the 1970s for water, oil and gas well completions. The issue was they were counting on peak oil before now.

          • I don’t have the reference so nay-sayers can say whatever they want but not long ago I read something that was anti-GMO, based on a research paper that was itself completely objective and without any expressed opinion. The place I read it first presented the paper and its findings, without comment, such as is often done here on WUWT, then proceeded to its alarm.

            The paper was a detailed investigation of the chemistry of a stock corn with the chemistry of the GMO produced from it. In the GMO they found 90 some ingredients that were not in the stock corn. Some were complete proteins, most were amino acid strings that were not complex enough to meet the definition of proteins. These 90 some chemicals being reported were the ones they were unable to identify. While the article did not give quantities, I would guess they were only trace amounts, not major ingredients.

            However, we do know that trace amounts of various substances are sometimes very important. My point is that here is an analysis of a single GMO product. It contains more than 90 unidentified ingredients. While those may be good or bad or totally irrelevant in long term effects, it is surely not correct to say that the safety has been proven.

          • Andy ==> Dig up the reference to this vaguely remembered paper and post the link. If not, it is just another anti-GMO inspired rumor. With the link, it may just be anti-GMO inspired pseudo-science. We can’t tell without the link.

          • 30 years after the genetically engineered L-Tryptophan disaster, the Proprietary Life Industry(TM) paid “researchers” to sift through old medical records in a desperate bid to find cases of EMS that were not linked to the Showa-Denko’s genetically modified production.

            But for the first 30 years after disaster, the role of GM was accepted. Every case of EMS was linked to one Showa Denko batch of L-Tryptophan produced by GM bacteria. EMS did not exist until that GM-produced batch hit the market:
            http://www.nemsn.org/Articles/truth_about_tryptophan.htm
            The condition was unknown and unnamed right up until that point.
            Re-opening of the investigation so long after the event was only triggered by growing online awareness of the genetically engineered disaster, contradicting the PR pronouncements of the industry about safety. There was no need for Orwellian revision before the rise of the web, since the MSM could always be relied upon to determine public opinion on important issues.

            The 21st century retroactive effort to re-write the history of EMS was really just a belated damage control operation by the virtue signalling proponents of proprietary life, who tout Yellow Rice as a truly viable solution to vitamin A deficiency, while blaming Greenpeace and “anti-GMO activists” for the repeated failures of the developers to produce something viable!!

            the concentration of β-carotene in GR2E rice is too low to warrant a nutrient content claim.“ – FDA
            https://www.independentsciencenews.org/news/gmo-golden-rice-offers-no-nutritional-benefits-says-fda/

            The FDA statement on the lack of nutritional benefit puts no dent on the enthusiasm of the virtue-signalling proponents who pretend to care about the welfare of a small subset of the planet’s poor.

            Why, I’ve even seen a fan of “Yellow Rice” endorse the starvation of children in Yemen by our Wahhabi allies in Saudi Arabia.

          • Khwarizmi ==> EMS was caused by a contaminated batch of L-Tryptophan produced by a single company cutting corners in its purification process. Your own references contain the disclaimer: “Even though the bacteria used to produce L-Tryptophan was genetically modified, there is insufficient evidence to prove that these modifications were solely responsible for the contaminants linked to the Eosinophilia- Myalgia Syndrome.”
            In fact, they still have no idea what caused the syndrome according to the NIH.

          • Kip
            This paper may have been the source for the article I read (which was an opinion piece, not a scientific study). It goes into much more detail than was provided in the first article. It also seems to say that a large number of proteins, not just a few, were altered. One particular change is attempted in the GM operation but that results in a large number of different results. To quote a small piece of their final discussion
            “our analysis at a detailed, in-depth molecular profiling level shows that NK603 grains, with or without Roundup spraying during cultivation, are not equivalent to isogenic non-transgenic control samples”.

            It seems to me that the paper raises more questions than it answers but it certainly does not leave the impression that ‘Everything is fine. Nothing to see here. Everyone just move on now.’ While their GMO corn certainly isn’t fatally toxic from the first bite, I can’t see how anyone could get the impression that safety has been clearly verified and there is no possibility of serious long term concern.

            Nor, by the way, that herbicide use is necessarily innocent vis a vis human health: another quote
            “This indicates that metabolic differences provoked by an early application of Roundup persisted throughout the life of the maize even in the absence of herbicide residues.”

            Note that they also point out that adverse results have been observed in short term feeding studies but that their exact causes and seriousness. On the other hand
            “fed for two years on these diets presented blood/urine biochemical changes indicative of an increased incidence of liver and kidney structure and functional pathology in the NK603-containing diet groups compared to non-GM controls51. Standard biochemical compositional analysis revealed no particular differences between the different maize types tested.”

            Whether or not it is a well done study I am not qualified to judge but it does seems that the researchers went to considerable effort to actually learn something from the real world.

            https://www.nature.com/articles/srep37855

        • Should be on GMO proponents to prove it, not others to disprove it. I hope you feel the same way about the CO2 climate changes.

    • Dr Reddy – to my mind, your criticism of golden rice sounds fabricated. The lives of people lacking vitamin A are miserable. http://www.foodpyramid.com/what-is-golden-rice/ Now that many people are using golden rice, please tell me: how does their experience compare with the high rate of death, blindness, etc, from those without access to golden rice?

      • There are plenty of natural local crops grown all over the world that contain A Vitamin. Also several miner millets contain several healthy diet components but people propogating rice. In the food security bill of 2013, sorghum, ragi and pearl millet were included at Rs. 1 a kg along with wheat and rice. You first eat golden rice and tell others. India has plenty of good rice varieties .

        Dr. S. Jeevananda Reddy

        • Certainly there are many sources of beta carotene for vitamin A but if millions of people are going blind, or even dying, from a lack of same, those sources must not be as widely available are necessary. Perhaps the problem just does not exist in India?

    • Just an added note to be clear: Greenpeace may have had an effect on the regulatory burden and perception of Golden Rice, but they never had the power to directly suppress it.

      “Scientists from UK found that the A Vitamin in the Golden Rice more harmful than the normal food as it contains excessive A Vitamin. ” With all due respect, this I find a little hard to believe. I remember researching it a while ago. However, I did find this:

      “However, some scientists surmised that the new synthetic pathways enabled by the gene insertion can produce potential toxic by-products (Schubert, 2008) while dietary β-carotene itself is generally considered a safe source of vitamin A
      (Novotny et al., 2010). Plant carotenoids can yield a family of retinoid compounds, including retinol, retinal and retinoic acid. While critical for their biological functions, all retinoids and their derivatives, according to Schubert, are likely teratogenic to humans. GR with its increased level of β-carotene synthesis might have potential to accumulate harmful compounds similar to retinoids. Although a research study concluded that β-carotene from maize could avoid the potential for hyper-vitaminosis A observed with preformed vitamin A supplementation and fortification (Gannon et al., 2014), biologically active compounds derived from the GR carotenoid synthesis, according to Schubert, could still have negative effects on human health (Schubert, 2008)”

      “Preformed vitamin A supplementation” I suspect refers to giving high-dose capsules to children, not to GR. This has apparently not been very successful anyway.

      A good article about GR, its development, and the complexities associated with making it widely available:
      http://redfame.com/journal/index.php/ijsss/article/viewFile/1918/2052

  6. Astonishing. All those words about CO2 and the phrase “trace gas” didn’t appear once. I suppose it never mattered.

  7. It must have been really difficult for all those organisms living when the co2 was 5 times higher than it is now to get enough nutrients! No wonder they were so small!

        • It has always been of interest to me that species get smaller when confined to Islands that don’t have enough food to support full size examples. There are more than one example. Mammths recently and I’m sure dear dear confused Sir David has covered in the ring of fire somewhere. Are dinosoar sized animals no longer viable because there isn’t enough warmth and CO2 to support an animal of that size (on land)?

          • Can’t have megafauna without megaflora.

            This holds true even in the oceans, where a few creatures of enormous size still dwell (e.g. blue whale). They don’t have to grow against gravity like land animals, but they still need enough to eat to gain and then keep their girth. Enter phytoplankton, the grass of the sea. Imagine how saturated with plankton the oceans must have been with thousands of ppm CO2.

  8. I doubt that lettuce of any variety has any value compared to a meal of fried eggs and bacon , plus grilled mushrooms and baked beans (English style not the awful Australian style BB).

      • Typically, raw eggs are thought to be bad for two reasons: 1. possible bacterial contamination (not a problem if fresh eggs) and 2. the protein “avidin” binds a normally common B-vitamin called “biotin” and can cause a deficiency. But, if the egg whites are cooked, the protein is unfolded and does not bind the biotin in one’s diet. Very interesting that she did not develop a biotin deficiency. I wonder if it only occurs if you throw away the yolks and eat only the raw egg whites?

        • my dogs are allowed raw eggs and the same issue can occur in canines.
          they get the whole egg
          couple a week not many per day i add;-)

      • Except that very little dietary cholesterol is absorbed. I have a vague memory of an article in a major medical journal, either British or American in the late 60’s or early 70’s that did an experiment by adding tritiated cholesterol to the diet and measuring how much passed straight through. My memory is that only about 5% was absorbed but am unable to give any citation.

        • People forget that humans can and do make cholesterol and that much of our dietary cholesterol isn’t cholesterol, but its precursors. They also forget that cholesterol is an acute phase reactant (that is, both synthesis and release of preformed cholesterol happens when cells and tissue get damaged, from whatever reason). Activation of the immune system results in active oxygen species (superoxide radicals, hydrogen peroxide and hypochloric acid) being produced locally. Statins inhibit local cholesterol synthesis in damaged tissue, so they function as mild immune inhibitors and membrane stabilizers. That’s where and how they limit damage from local oxygen deprivation.

          That said, medicine is as fad-prone as any other human enterprise. Also, it is much easier to scam people with biologicals than it is to scam them with refined chemicals, *and*, all material objects are chemicals or mixtures of chemicals.

          Dose and route make the medicine. Dose and route make the poison. Chemistry matters and within chemistry, conditions matter.

    • It is not a fallacy but a fact. Why do you deny reality?

      How can more CO2 not increase plant mass?

      Are you really unaware that in photosynthesis water from the ground and carbon dioxide from the air make sugar?

    • Just as you are giving no reason for your nonsensical argument, it is equally self-evident that you are a spanner short of a tool kit. Please enlighten us as to why it is “absurd” to consider that enhanced plant growth is bad? I guess all that ecology about plants being the base of the food chain must be wrong. So if CO2 starvation were to extinct all plants on earth, the ecosystem would seamlessly switch to depending on bacteria growing in hydrothermal vents miles under the ocean surface, and would hardly notice the change. So in fact deforestation and ploughing up green fields for urban development are fine and good because plants are neither here nor there for the well-being of humans or the ecosystem?

      Congratulations! Yours is quite possibly the stupidest post in the entire history of WUWT.

    • Yes, of course! That’s why commercial greenhouses remove all CO2…../sarc (as if needed).

    • ivankinsman ==> You are arguing against a point not made in the essay. This is a form of trolling — generally not appreciated here.
      You make my point precisely though — Zimmer and Campbell are shocked to find that Global Greening is considered to be GOOD by their ideological enemies, the Climate Skeptics of all stripes. Thus, they must fight against something that is Good and try to paint it Bad. Greening is, of course, only good and has no down side. A hard point to refute without resorting to misrepresentation.

    • Perhaps you are correct. I have begun work on a chemical product which will severely stunt the growth of any plant! Grain crops will not even peek out of the soils! This should be to your liking. I’ll let you know when it’s ready for testing. Russia sounds like a good place to start as it’s rulers have starved its people for most of the last hundred years so they can withstand the results.

    • ivankinsman,
      “…fringe US sceptic community?” I resemble that insult! What is your claim to fame?

  9. “Senselessly worrying about small incremental changes in nutritional values of different crops under higher CO2 ”

    It isnt senseless worry, it is an intentional lie to try to demonise CO2. These clowns worry no more about the quality of the environment than they do about food quality. CO2 isnt about quality, it is about global socialist governance.

  10. Don’t forget that the very poor also need electricity from coal-fired power stations as soon as possible. A huge Health Factor.

    • Coeur de Lion ==> The poor do need electricity — its source is far less important. Electricity allows safe healthy food storage (refrigeration), extends the productive day of the whole family, allows children to read and study after dark, and exposes the people to the wider-world through modern communications — radio, TV, internet.
      I have worked in a country where electricity is wired to nearly every home, but is unreliable — almost destroying the economy — keeping it at a third world level. In parts of the country where electricity is 24/7 reliably, the local economy improves by leaps and bounds.

    • To use an extreme, made up example.
      Let’s say the amount of food being produced by the plant doubled. At the same time, the concentration of nutrients in the food went down by 10%.

      An normal person would recognize that both the amount of food and the amount of nutrients have increased.
      The alarmist would just concentrate on the 10% drop and try to convince everyone that this new food was bad for you.

      EDIT: Oops, that was supposed to be in response to MattS.

  11. Interesting how much mis-information is floating around out there regarding nutrition and genetic mutations.

    Re: the RDA, the current RDA is not exactly science based, as it’s set to where no known pathologies exist rather than setting it to a point where the majority of humans would have optimal health. Studies at the University of Texas established a set of realistic levels based on determining what primates needed for optimal health. The studies were done as at the time a lot of research was being done using the primates and if you are inducing disease one would need to know that the primate was in optimal health prior to the inducement.

    Dr. Roger J. Williams, one of the lead researchers, wrote a number of books on the subject and they are still available on Amazon.

    • The problem is that it is unethical to conduct experiments where people might be harmed.
      This an instance where models (of human biology) can play a role.

    • Briggs ==> Determining the RDAs of various vitamins is difficult and
      involved a lot of — let’s be frank — guessing.
      It often involved the treatment of persons already suffering from a deficiency condition and treating to to recovery.
      RDAs should not be taken too seriously. True vitamin deficiencies should be taken seriously, but are almost non-existent in the developed world.
      There has been concern in the US is Vit D deficiency/insufficiency turning in up children slathered with sunblock and kept out of the sun — and not fed Vit D enhanced milk. Very few foods are natural sources of Vit D — your body makes it when the sun shines on your skin. Despite this — the anti-Sun movement continues to recommend preventing the sun from shining on children’s skin. I’ll have to make an essay of this topic…..

      • I quite agree with your point. My point was that with regard to humans, taking the results from the testing on other primates is probably better than the current “guessing.” Vit C is a case in point. The research showed that adult homo sapiens should ingest between 1500 and 3000 mg of Vit C a day for optimum health – that is vastly different than the current RDA. Claiming there are no real deficiencies is not the same as saying people are in optimal health.

        To be sure, we don’t have a large set of the population taking a balanced intake of the co-enzymes based on the research, so we can’t compare to see whether there are other pathological conditions hidden in plain sight like the B-12 deficiency discovered in the last 20 years or so.

        • briggs ==> The ever-lengthening life span indicates that we are probably doing something right….
          That said, humans have been shown to be able to survive and thrive on the most absurdly limited diets, often living to advanced ages even in primitive cultures.

  12. The soil depletion scare …

    In agriculture, depletion can be due to excessively intense cultivation and inadequate soil management. link

    Marx thought soil depletion was the result of capitalist agriculture.

    What we’re seeing with the nutrition scare is also a problem that is easily dealt with, as was soil depletion.

    Thanks for the excellent article Kip.

    • Commie ==> You are welcome. The paper on the the soil depletion thing is in the Quick Links as “Mineral nutrient composition of vegetables, fruits and grains [pdf]”

    • I would say that Marx was a prime example of the outright stupidity and failure of modelling. He was as good as anybody at noticing problems but then he went out on a limb, fearlessly postulating economic models based on his personal understanding and grievances and imagined that his models represented reality and could be used to create a better world.
      The body count ran to the tens of millions and continues even to this day.
      The Left says they have abandoned Communism or Marxist Socialism but they fail to see that what Bernie Sanders or others of that ilk promote is only the tip of that same awful iceberg.
      Socialism creates shortage and want, which the Socialists propose to cure with more Socialism.
      Until there is nothing left to share!

      • … nothing left to share!

        Elephant in the room is an English-language metaphorical idiom for an obvious problem or risk that no one wants to discuss.

        Some folks are incapable of seeing the giant elephant.

  13. hmm?
    https://www.sciencealert.com/scurvy-coming-back-vitamin-c-poverty-massachusetts-boston-vitamania-movie

    and while quinoa Tef and amaranth may be expensive its more due to middleman n marketing
    theyre all pretty good producers Tef maybe lesser grain, but it can be grazed twice before it heads so it feeds animals and humans and animals after harvest again
    quinoa at least has every aminoacid we need to survive is high protien and really is acrop we need to grow far more of. its gaining ground in india and africa because its also very tolerant to salty water soils dry and cold
    its biggest issue is frost or extreme heat just as it starts to head n flower, or rain when it is ripe.

    do you really think that continuous use without a rest of soils, doesnt deplete, then cause hardpan and upset soil biota and balance, then I am amazed.
    chemical inputs like chemical lab vitamins just dont do the same as natures inputs
    places with deep soils grow great crops and thats usually the river flats and the areas glaciers left lots of rock dust behind.
    fighting nature is costly and expensive and we lose
    working with it is far saner.

    • oz ==> Please try to comment on the topics raised in the essay. If you are addressing me, begin you comment with my name “Kip…” then I’ll know you are not just talking to yourself or the wall.
      This essay does not address agricultural practices regarding soil conditioning — which is an interesting topic — just not the topic of this essay.
      Nor does it discuss the relative attributes of various minor grains — except when they are fallaciously being touted as SuperFoods — also a topic for another essay — but not this one.
      This essay does speak to the issue of whether or not incremental differences in the nutritional values of growth enhanced crops makes a public health difference — the answer to which is generally “No”.

    • I think there are a lot of twists and turns in this topic. I live in Western Canada where we grow a lot of grain. This is a fairly dry country and can be prone to drought, which we are experiencing now. During the 30’s we had crop failures and record high temperatures which accompanied the dry conditions. There was severe soil erosion, dust storms, the whole dirty 30’s bit.
      We had drought again in the 80’s. Almost as bad but not quite and farmers began to adopt practices such as zero till farming and leaving more stubble in the fields to help retain the snow which was itself scarce in those years. This was quite successful and is a practice which continues in general use.
      Zero till causes issues with weed control and requires more chemical spray for control. In this area this is a strong underlying issue which argues for GMO solutions which can provide crops which resist herbicides commonly used to control weeds.
      Hard to work around all these factors as we try to fed the world.

  14. This is probably relevant:

    https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/08/170802082924.htm

    So if nutrition values drop 10% and you spread that over the world, then this happens. That approach is kind of sophomoric. Find what’s bad as a high school student would do for a science project. If, at the same time yields go up 20%, then what do we have? So if the food you eat goes up 20% by volume, while it’s nutrition goes down 10%, you are ahead, but maybe overweight. But the victims they find to make their point on average are not overweight.

    At the same time, I do think it’s true, you get bulkier food. What is CO2? Future sugars in plant form. 6H2O + 6CO2 → C6H12O6 + 6O2.

  15. Speaking as an average Deplorable with an average education level, I’m here to tell you that most of the population has 100% tuned out all the “dietary advice” from “Experts” that’s supposed to make us immortal and better looking until its invariably debunked and found egregiously harmful 10 years later. We’re going to eat what we like and can afford, probably not sweat it about exercise, and we’re completely sure that Life is 100% fatal, one way or the other, so we’d rather enjoy it while we can rather than wring our hands trying to change what everyone else does. And the kale-and-quinoa set can BITE ME.

  16. Epilogue:

    We have had a lot of interesting comments — and a lot of off-topic general GMO Wars sparring (which may be fun for the participants, but detracts from the conversation.) Hint: This essay was not about GMOs.

    Several good comments about the true state of human knowledge about dietary nutrients and whether we really know how much of what we need for “optimal” health. Like CliSci, our knowledge is really pretty weak — we know just enough to identify certain clinical deficiencies and what to give patients to relieve the deficiency, but we know almost nothing that could be claimed to be the requirements for “optimal health” — if there is even such as thing as “optimal health” — which we don’t know either — its mostly a mystery, like “optimum climate”.

    I appreciate those who try to make constructive additions to the conversation, ask interesting questions, or make collegial challenges to my stated views.

    Thee are still two more essays in this series….stayed tuned.

    Thanks for reading.

  17. There is a market gardener near me in the Eastern Suburbs of Melbourne that grows the best crops of organic vegetables you could imagine, after each cropping he leaves that area to follow the old system of lying fallow for at least one year, some paddocks for two.
    In poor counties, usually over populated, the ground does not receive the opportunity to regenerate and receive the necessary nutrients.
    Of course the “experts” in blaming CO2 for everything would have taken this into account.

    • Ve2 ==> There are a lot of “better” agricultural practices, of which leaving a plot of land fallow, or planted in a nitrogen-fixing cover-crop, is one.
      There are literally whole libraries of books on the how-to’s and why’s of soil management.
      That said, there are productive farms that have been operated for three hundred years in my are of New York state.

  18. We already had that –

    “When modern crops produce more grain or fruit, through plant breeding, better agricultural methods, modern fertilizers and CO2 fertilization, the increased “food” doesn’t contain an equal, proportional, increase in minerals, vitamins, proteins and carbohydrates. Present day biology is not sure why this is.” –

    With faster growing there’s less time to sample minerals, vitamins, proteins and carbohydrates.

  19. “plants grown under enhanced CO2 conditions “often end up containing lower concentrations of nutrients such as nitrogen, copper and potassium.”

    Once upon a time, long ago, I watched one of those excruciating teacher films where it was speculated that dinosaur size was connected to low nutrient density plants; where large animal size allowed greater amounts to be consumed…

    Also in that film, the same researchers speculated that high CO₂ levels and young, relatively, evolutionary age of plants caused plants’ low nutrient densities.

    A film best forgotten, even if activists are hyper focused on bizarre claims.

    America’s U.S.D.A. maintains a nutrient-food data base that they keep updated and very comprehensive.

    Two major oddities of the USDA Food-Nutrient data base is that it does not identify any substantive food nutrient differences for either organically raised or those foods raised in elevated CO₂ conditions. Nor have the USDA laboratories identified substantive differences for food raised hydroponically.

    Then, there is the USDA’s predilection for tracking or conducting research, often in fields across America.
    e.g.: “Elevated Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide Effects on Sorghum and Soybean Nutrient Status,
    D. W. Reeves, H. H. Rogers, and S. A. Prior
    USDA-ARS National Soil Dynamics Laboratory, P.O. Box 3439, Auburn, AL
    36831-3439
    C. W. Wood
    Agronomy and Soils Department, Auburn University Alabama 36849-5412
    G. B. Runion
    School of Forestry, Auburn University, AL 36849-5412 ”

    “IMPLICATIONS AND SUMMARY
    Greenhouse and growth chamber studies have reported reductions in concentrations of nutrient elements other than N in plant tissue due to increased biomass production with elevated CO2 (Peet et al., 1986; Overdieck, 1993). We found no reduction in nutrient element concentrations, other than N in soybean as a result of elevated CO2. Our study provided a more natural environment, i.e. not a growth chamber or glasshouse environment with restricted rooting conditions. Under our more natural field-type experimental conditions, it is likely that the dilution effect of increased biomass on plant tissue nutrient concentrations as a result of an enriched CO2 atmosphere was offset by increased root development and nutrient uptake. Rogers et al. (1992) reported that under field conditions, cotton root development was enhanced by elevated CO2”

    Imagine that!? Conducting large scale experiments instead of just accepting someone else’s microcosm experiment where restricted supply of nutrients may restrict uptake.

    Of course, this experiment was performed back when scientists were expected to honorably practice the scientific method and independent replication was necessary.

    There you have it; USDA research and qualitative/quantitative laboratory tests refute the high CO₂ low nutrient value claims.

    • Theo ==> There have been a lot of mixed results and a major review is probably in order. Even with the mixed results, it does not appear to be an impending problem.

  20. The “less nutritious” is an over generalization and probably a misinterpretation of earlier research (see various papers in A history of Atmospheric CO2 and Its Effects on Plants, Animals and Ecosystems. Studies on plant metabolisms indicate that from say the mid-Mesozoic until about the Miocene (a time span with comparatively high atmospheric CO2), the chief limit on plant productivity was nitrogen availability. Ironically N is an atmospheric gas that is taken up as compounds (nitrates) through their roots. The only gas plants “inhale” is CO2. Over the span mentioned CO2 availablility steadily decreases and by about 20 MYA, C4 plants (and CAMS cycle plants as well) are beoming important and their importance is reflected in stable isotope composition in fossils – AND in the evolutions of herbivore teeth. The “hypsodont” or high crowned tooth, typical of animals like horses and bison, adapted to grass consumption are anadaptation to a grazing subsistence. Between about 7 and 6 million years ago there is a “carbon shift” reflected both in marine samples and in fossil grazers. The stable isotope C-13 increases dramatically and in geological terms abruptly over that span.

    But to get back to the real point, as CO2 becomes more “rare,” the limit on productivity shifts from N to CO2. And since the late Miocene the chief limiting factor on planetary biological productivity has been CO2. Growth of deserts and and several other phenomena may be linked to this as well (ooh – plants affect climate!). Another point not made in the original article is that the highest effects on “greening” are around desert margins, not agriculturally. This is particularly important because plants are more drought resistant and handle water better with an adequate supply of CO2. So some degree of desrtification may be due to the extremely low levels of CO2 we “enjoy” at present. It all needs vastly more research which will not be done by CO2-climate control knob faithful.

    • Nitrate photo-assimilation in some C3 plants is decreased under elevated CO2 (eCO2). One of the compensatory agricultural tactics to alleviate eCO2 induced crop protein concentration reduction is to move toward nitrogen ammonium fertilization in contrast to popular nitrate fertilizer.

      Water dynamics under eCO2 includes transpiration dampening. Which is compensated for by eCO2 boosting the efficiency of Rubisco (ie: less nitrogen needs to be shunted to making enzymes)& then nitrogen is available for other processes.

      Thus under eCO2 the carbon fixed into biomass is more efficient per nitrogen taken up. However, there occurs a higher ratio of carbon to nitrogen under eCO2 & then more carbon becomes lignin & roots; which is a feature of desert margin greening. And the dung of animals
      in that niche provide nitrogen in a more utilizable form than farmers’ nitrate under eCO2.

      Herbivores consuming individual C4 plants will find no difference in carbon to nitrogen ratio under eCO2. However C3 grasses, “weeds” (fobs) & woody vegetation under eCO2 will have to contend with an average of 22% higher carbon to nitrogen concentration ratio. Furthermore, the ratio of carbon usually goes up in relation to phosphorus in C3 leaves under eCO2.

      C4 grazing that contains a constellation of different grasses react to eCO2 by producing more of the types of grass that have the naturally higher ratio of carbon to nitrogen & phosphorus. Thus, under eCO2, the ground cover proportionately shifts the grazing biomass to lower nitrogen & phosphorus content C4 species, even though eCO2 itself does not alter the individual species’ C:N, nor C:P ratio from current CO2 level’s ratio. See Polley, et al (2011)
      “CO2 enrichment increases element concentrations in grass mixtures by changing species abundances”.

      • Forbs is the word, not as written (“fobs”).

        [The mods believe Forbs Magazine should watch fobs more errors like that. .mod]

  21. “Dilution” of the concentration of specific mg minerals/ gram of wheat is something the elevated CO2 (eCO2) yield of extra content in grams/ sq. mt. that does have relevance. Part of the issue of reduced protein content in eCO2 grain is due to effects of reduced mineral concentration involvement in reducing the % of nitrogen concentration.

    In some wheat cultivars a 10% reduction in sulphur/gram can knock down it’s nitrogen content 10%. Reductions in magnesium/gram is another mineral which notably results in less nitrogen %.

    As most wheat cultivars grows from 400 ppm to eCO2 of ~550 ppm there is notable reduction in magnesium mg/gr concentration & an even wider range of sulphur/gr reduction among cultivars. Actually it is mg zinc/gr under eCO2 with the most drastic potential in some cultivars to lose in terms of %; & similarly it is mg zinc/gr with the most potential to drive down relative nitrogen concentration in some cultivars (over 20% less nitogen concentration from 10% less mg zinc/gr). However eCO2 actually increases mg zinc/gr in a few cultivars, which is rarely the case for magnesium& sulphur.

    Cadmium has the distinction of consistantly impacting relative nitrogen concentration. A 10% cadmium reduction in concentration can reduce nitrogen % concentration by 10% & even >20% in certain wheat cultivars. Unlike most other minerals under eCO2 all tested wheat cultivars get less mg cadmium/gr.

    So which mineral reduced in mg/gr concentration under eCO2 most likely to alternatively help to increase the % of nitrogen concentration? It seems that boron, in approximately half the meta-analysis cases, bucked the trend (wherein less mg boron/gr sometimes increased % nitrogen). The mineral potassium also had about the same rate of frequency in terms of dual outcomes reported ( but did not have as wide a range in effect on nitrogen).

    More detailed charts & relationships of specific mineral I’ve not mentioned are available on-line.
    Pardon my unedited comment – typed on finicky tablet & don’t want to lose composition. See Broberg, et al free full text (2017) ” CO2 induced changes in wheat grain composition: meta-analysis and response function.”

  22. THOSE WHO THINK THIS COMMENT IS TOO LONG CAN SKIP THE EXAMPLE – OR NOT READ IT AT ALL

    Kip,

    “Getting rid of the silly part first: ‘microbes are to blame’…’At present, none of mechanisms and processes hypothesized can fully explain the CO2-induced declines in crop N [proteins] concentrations.'”

    Stating that none of the processes hypothesized can AT PRESENT FULLY explain CO2-induced changes does not mean that microbes don’t play a role, even if they are not “to blame” for the full effect. It is not a silly hypothesis, it is one that needs more investigation.

    “The most important point is embodied in the claim that plants grown under enhanced CO2 conditions ‘often end up containing lower concentrations of nutrients such as nitrogen, copper and potassium.’ This is the food faddists fallacy and is responsible for a great deal of nonsense in the food and nutrition fields of science.”

    In what way is this a fallacy??? Your discussion is largely irrelevant – it’s obvious that crops have variation in nutrient composition. The point is that elevated CO2 levels could have a general, overall impact in nutrient content per unit yield. For those who rely on a crop like rice for most of their diet, this could be a substantial problem.

    “The scary iron deficiency story …assumes that the diets of the poor in these areas will remain unchanged, that there will be no advances in standards of living, food security or primary foods; no public health advances, no health education efforts; no vitamin supplementation programs where already desperately needed ”

    By the same token, is it safe to assume that these problems will soon be ameliorated, or that other populations won’t begin to experience similar problems as a result of climate change?

    – Increases in population mean that increased yield doesn’t necessarily translate to higher food availability.

    – One can be above the recommended caloric intake and still be malnourished.

    – Advances in agricultural technology often require capital investment that isn’t available to the poorest farmers; even addition of N may be beyond their means.

    – Political and socioeconomic factors will play an important role in the future of developing countries, something that is hard to predict, and over which outsiders often have little control.

    Kip is absolutely right that “Senselessly worrying…does not lead to any solution and does not solve the nutritional problems of the world’s poor.” Worrying alone achieves nothing. However, recognition of a potential problem can lead to solutions. Dismissing it doesn’t.

    EXAMPLE
    Take Bangladesh, a country that has made great strides in reducing nutritional problems. “[P]er capita calorie intake in 2010 was 2,318 kilocalories (kcal) per day” (which is ABOVE the minimum requirement). Of course, this is an average, and about 1/4 of Bangladeshis still suffered from food insecurity in 2014 (all stats from the World Food Programme site). Poverty fell from 56.6 percent in 1991–92 to 31.5 percent in 2010. Maternal undernutrition, measured by ‘low’ body mass index, fell from 52% to 17% between 1996–97 and 2014. And yet, the rate of stunting among children under five was still over 1/3, and “acute malnutrition (or ‘wasting’) has remained worryingly stubborn over a long period.” One likely reason is that the contribution of cereals to total energy supply “has fallen very slowly—from 79.6 percent in 1995–96 to 77 percent in 2009–11” (a 2016 article puts it at 75%) – and that’s an AVERAGE. Some may say, Well, grow more veggies! – but this is not an option for the urban poor living in slums – likewise buying more veggies. The punchline: “About half of the population already suffer from iron and zinc deficiencies, which cause serious damage to health and nutrition, especially for small children and pregnant women. There is a genuine concern that rising carbon dioxide in the atmosphere will exacerbate the problem of micronutrient deficiencies further.”

    Bangladesh HAS had increased standards of living and food production and security, yet “about one-fifth of the children under five in the richest wealth quintile were found to suffer from stunting in 2014,” and “Even among mothers with higher level of education (secondary completed), 32.8 percent of babies are born with low birthweight; among the wealthiest quintile, the proportion is 34.1 percent.”

    Who among you can be sure that future changes in Bangladesh, much less the developing world as a whole, will make lower nutrient values unimportant? Kip?

    • Isn’t he saying it’s a fallacy because just as we eat crops that produce more crops per acre, we aren’t starving or malnourished? The countries with less industry and less developed business are producing more also but they are. Is he assuming that the nutrition is going to change when the wage of people on average isn’t? I don’t think he is. It seems to me he’s just saying there’s no correlation. That’s what is lacking in most climate change believers arguments, cause and effect. My God, you yourself are admitting that India is getting healthier but at the same time we should be terrified that climate change will cause this to not only stop but reverse course? I’m sorry Kip is busy responding to hundreds of other people and I know I’m not as scientific as he is. Thank you for not being a Troll. We’re all very busy here. Enjoy our global greening and our wonderfully higher levels of C02 concentration.

  23. The vitamin A discussion above is flawed from the get go. Vitamin A is one of the vitamins that are fat soluble and one that is best obtained from animal sources (offals like liver). Trying to cover it’s needs from carotene (I.e. its pro-vitamin) is completely misguided, as the conversion rate is limited in most people, especially men. So even if the staple crop was replete with pro-vitamin A, some people would be hit with deficiencies, if the availability of animal food was compromised.
    But that’s even more politically incorrect than global warming “denial”, for the sjw puritan.

Comments are closed.