Climate change to shrink size of bread

23 June 2015 - 02:01 By ©The Daily Telegraph

Long-term global warming could cause loaves of bread to shrink in size due to a reduction in the amount of protein in grains, Australian scientists have found. Loaves based on 2050 atmospheric carbon dioxide levels predicted by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change were baked by researchers at the Victorian government and Melbourne University.They emerged smaller and crumpled compared to their present-day counterparts.The scientists discovered that rises in carbon dioxide will increase the size of wheat plants and make them more efficient at using water but will affect the quality of the grain.Dr Glenn Fitzgerald, a senior researcher for the Victorian government, who led the study, said the amount of protein in the grain is set to reduce by 2% to 14% if carbon dioxide levels increase as anticipated.He and his colleagues used grain harvested in December to bake loaves earlier this year and found them to be much smaller than those baked using grain harvested in current climatic conditions.He said: "As atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide goes up, it reduces the nitrogen levels in plants and leaves and that reduces the protein in the grain. The protein in the grain affects the proteins in the flour and it leads to changes in the elasticity and strength of the dough."The scientists are examining whether it is possible to produce varieties of wheat in which the protein reduction does not occur.

This article is reserved for Sunday Times subscribers.

A subscription gives you full digital access to all Sunday Times content.

Already subscribed? Simply sign in below.

Registered on the BusinessLIVE, Business Day or Financial Mail websites? Sign in with the same details.



Questions or problems? Email helpdesk@timeslive.co.za or call 0860 52 52 00.