Soy bean field in Santa Cuz, Bolivia. By CIAT (Bolivia_soybean2Uploaded by mrjohncummings) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

This paper was originally published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America.


“Environmental changes threaten agricultural production, food security, and health. Previous reviews suggest that environmental changes will substantially affect future yields of starchy dietary staples. To date, no comprehensive global analysis of the impacts of environmental change on (nonstaple) vegetables and legumes—important constituents of healthy diets—has been reported.

We systematically searched for articles published between 1975 and 2016 on the effects of ambient temperature, tropospheric carbon dioxide (CO2), and ozone (O3) concentrations, water availability, and salinization on yields and nutritional quality of vegetables and legumes. We estimated mean effects of standardized environmental changes using observed exposure-response relationships and conducted meta-analyses where possible.

We identified 174 relevant papers reporting 1,540 experiments. The mean (95% CI) reported yield changes for all vegetables and legumes combined were +22.0% (+11.6% to +32.5%) for a 250-ppm increase in CO2concentration, −8.9% (−15.6% to −2.2%) for a 25% increase in O3 concentration,−34.7% (−44.6% to −24.9%) for a 50% reduction in water availability, and −2.3% (−3.7% to −0.9%) for a 25% increase in salinity.

In papers with baseline temperatures >20 °C, a 4 °C increase in temperature reduced mean yields by −31.5% (−41.4% to −21.5%). Impacts of environmental changes on nutritional quality were mixed. In a business-as-usual scenario, predicted changes in environmental exposures would lead to reductions in yields of nonstaple vegetables and legumes. Where adaptation possibilities are limited, this may substantially change their global availability, affordability, and consumption in the mid to long term. Our results stress the importance of prioritizing agricultural developments, to minimize potential reductions in vegetable and legume yields and associated negative health effects…”

Read on and access the full paper at: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America.