Study Links Climate Change to Lower Crop yields, Higher Food Prices


Due partly to lower crop yields brought by climate change, food prices have risen by 71 percent over the past year.Photo by MarS, Flickr.

Climate change has stymied crop yields, contributing to skyrocketing food prices, according to a new study published by the journal Science.

The Des Moines Register reports:

While U.S. farmers have enjoyed a relatively favorable climate, yield gains in other regions over the past three decades have been partially offset by temperature increases…

While corn yields increased worldwide between 1980 and 2008, they would have been 3.8 percent higher if not for higher temperatures, the study said. The climate changes also reduced gains in wheat yields, the scientists said.

The findings are consistent with those of Iowa’s Climate Change Impacts Committee, which issued a report to the governor in January.

That report found that increased rain due to climate change may boost corn yields, but changes in seasonal rainfall patterns make spring planting more difficult. Additionally, increases in severe rain and flooding hurt crops, soil and livestock, increasing costs to farmers.

And, though increased carbon dioxide due to climate change may help soybeans grow, it also induces weed growth and brings plant diseases and pests – conditions that can further reduce yields and increase food costs, which have risen by 71 percent since April 2010, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization.

The more recent study concluded that additional research is needed on how to make crops more resilient to rising temperatures and other conditions brought by climate change.

Earlier this year, the USDA awarded a five-year, $20 million grant to an Iowa State University team that is evaluating crop management under climate change models. The project includes an online, interactive tool called I-FARM, which helps the team analyze isolated management practices.


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