China that is the world’s largest rice producer accounting for 30 per cent of the global rice is found to have a high level of surface ozone pollution that is wreaking havoc on its rice yields. A new study paints an alarming picture for the future of the rice industry where a professor of Agricultural and Resource Economics at the University of California, Dr. Colin Carter says, “peaks in ozone when you have two or three really bad days of high surface ozone which, like air pollution, can have huge impact on yield, a negative yield.” The scientists found that rice yields can be affected by as much as 2 per cent, a severe statistic, given the huge quantities; China produces of the global rice crop. Just 8 per cent of global rice production is traded internationally, with the rest being consumed domestically. This means any fall in rice production can prove fatal for people in the poor nations.
Surface ozone pollution is directly linked to the emission of nitrogen oxides produced by cars, power plants and refineries, all part of a rapidly growing industrialised landscape in China. “Another important factor that is the matter of a grave concern is that the pollution is not improving in China; infact it’s getting worse. Therefore with these projections for increased ozone pollution in China, the numbers will increase and the yield losses will be higher,” added Prof Carter. The impact on global rice market will rise as the yield losses increase leading to 20 percent price rise if the situation is left unchecked over the coming years. “This will have an impact on the price of rice throughout the world. It will impact the price of rice in Africa, India and Pakistan among others. So it is not just the Chinese consumers that are affected but globally the rice industry will be affected,” warned Prof Carter. The outcome confirmed a clear direct link between excessive surface ozone ranges and poor rice yield. The study predicts a future where the increased prices could threaten global food security, leaving the world’s poorest at increased risk of malnutrition and starvation.