Increasing carbon dioxide concentrations will threaten crops and levels of human nutrition around the world.
That’s according to researchers from the Harvard Chan School, which examined the impact of the gas on iron, protein and zinc levels in 225 different foods.
The study suggests atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide are expected to exceed 550 parts per million in the next 30 to 80 years – this increase is expected to reduce the essential mineral content of many staple crops by up to 17%.
The report warns this could cause an additional 175 million people to be zinc-deficient and 122 million to be protein-deficient by 2050.
The scientists behind the work say Africa, South and Southeast Asia and the Middle East are likely to be the regions most affected.
Sam Myers, Principal Research Scientist at Harvard Chan School, said: “Our research makes it clear that decisions we are making every day – how we heat our homes, what we eat, how we move around, what we choose to purchase – are making our food less nutritious and imperiling the health of other populations and future generations.”