High levels of carbon dioxide could be making rice less nutritious

Rice is the culinary foundation for much of the world and provides 25 percent of the total calories consumed globally. According to research in Science Advances Critical, nutrients found in rice which include protein, B vitamins, iron and zinc are poised to decline. “It is the primary food available for the poorest people in the world, particularly for those in Asia,” said Lewis Ziska, co-author of the new study.

Ziska and his colleagues studied 18 rice strains grown around the world using a technique called Free-Air Carbon dioxide Enrichment (FACE). The rice was grown at sites in China and Japan using an open-field method within standard rice fields. Plants were subjected to atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations of 568 to 590 parts per million. Current concentrations are 410 parts per million – and growing each year at about 2 parts per million.

After harvesting the rice, researchers found an average of 10.3 percent reduction in protein across all the tested varieties and one cultivar showed a 20 percent drop in protein. Iron content fell an average of 8 percent, while the average decline in zinc was 5.1 percent, with some strains experiencing a 15 percent fall. Vitamin B1, B2, B5 and B9 concentrations also fell as CO2 levels rose.  

The research aligns with a common theme in climate findings, which is that poor and marginalized communities around the world would be most affected by the reduction of nutrients. It also shows that these individuals would find it difficult to adjust and diversify their diets to obtain nutrients that they would be lacking. Approximately 600 million people in countries including Bangladesh, Cambodia and Indonesia get more than half of their daily calories and protein directly from rice.

The finding has serious public health implications, especially as CO2 emissions are projected to increase in the coming decades. This may push the international community to adopt more effective initiatives to lower our global production of CO2.

However, not all varieties of rice responded the same way. Future research may examine the possibility of finding varieties of rice that can remain nutritious despite the change in the atmosphere – a project that is critical to maintaining standards of global public health.

Letter to the Editor: Our Parks

Bag was
Dear Editor,
Like usual, we went out this morning to our local park, Fountainhead Park, to walk our dogs. Like usual, sadly, we were faced with a barrage of litter left behind by park users.
I counted fifty-seven pieces of garbage on the grass in the east side of the park.
Mainly water bottles, some empty, some not. Also chip bags, Mr. Freezie wrappers, crushed pop cans, fast food drink cups, and a discarded empty cigarette package.
I don’t understand why park users can’t simply use the litter and recycling bins to dispose of their garbage.
This isn’t the first time I’ve written about this problem. The nearby high school works hard to keep this part of the park litter free. Our local city Councillor and his staff are working hard along with Parks and Rec staff to make the entire park welcoming and something to be proud of.
What will it finally take for everyone everyday to respect our neighbourhood park?
Janis Jaffe-White
P.S. I attached a garbage bag to an end zone pole and to a tree on the field in the park. You can see from the attached photos that the bags have been used, thank goodness.

I’m not certain how much of a difference this small step will make but I am hopeful.
P.P.S. I have given up on trying to help keep the park clean. The bags keep getting removed by whom, I don’t know.

Local community advocate works to be next Miss Africa Canada

Leeann Tanaah is a 24 year-old young woman who has grown up in the Jane and Finch community her whole life. During the week she is a youth worker at Promoting Education and Community Health (PEACH) working with young boys and creating safe spaces and on the weekends Leeann has spent her time training to be the next Miss Africa Canada.

             “I always wanted to do a pageant and I told myself 2018 is going to be the time I do many of the things I want to do with my life.” Leeann explained that the pageant means “really bossing up and having tenacity.”

              With the help of her coaches, Ama Deidra, Ms. Folu, Zeeba Enebeli, and Fatou alongside the owner of the Miss Africa Canada competition, Mr. Ibrahim Adekale, Leeann has been able to connect with her competitors as both competition and friends as they navigate what Miss Africa Canada pageant means and win the title.  

              “To me, Miss Africa Canada means being a woman who is not ashamed of being a woman and all that it comes with. It means being tenacious.”

              Leeann explained that tenacity is a word she lives by and has created the concept of “Tanaahcity” – a combination of her last name and the word “city” to inspire her and remind her of her own strength.

“Tanaahcity, or tenacity, inspires me. Tanaah City is a metaphor – it’s a city set on a hill. It’s about being able to see things clearly and to have better discernment in your life,” Leeann explains. This metaphor of the city on the hill – which is also a passage from the Bible – has helped Leeann be tenacious in the face of self-doubt and doubt from others.

Leeann describes that sometimes it’s difficult to be a woman – often left navigating being “too this” or “too that.” Training for Miss Africa Canada has built the confidence she needs to make decisions that center her and encourages Leeann to pursue goals she before would have shied away from.

              “I love to see a young girl go out and grab the world by the lapels” is a Maya Angelou quote that happens to be one of Leeann’s favourites. The competition requires discipline and commitment – from fine tuning one’s walk, to honing your talent, to continuing your participation despite self-doubt and criticism. Leeann notes that the Miss Africa Canada competition has helped her build the confidence she needs to take control of her life and her future. The competition reinforces Leeann’s tenacity.

              “I’m done with counting myself out – I am not counting myself out. Over the years people have – ever since I was younger, people have been counting me out. But nope. This year I am counting myself in.”