They further demonstrated reductions in yields of available common-bean varieties in field trial experiments at a climate analogue site, representative of future predicted drought conditions.

The nutritional analysis of the different common-bean varieties, grown under the level of drought stress expected under climate change scenarios, revealed that important micronutrients for human health (e.g. iron) were reduced in all of the varieties, while antinutritional compounds such as phytic acid and lead were increased.

The NUI Galway research, funded by Irish Aid, Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) and CCAFS, indicates that under climate-change-induced drought scenarios, future bean servings by 2050 will likely have lower nutritional quality, posing challenges for ongoing climate-proofing of bean production for yields, nutritional quality, human health, and food security.

Climate change may have a severe nutritional impact on many crops worldwide

Lead scientist for the study, Prof Charles Spillane (Director of the Ryan Institute at NUI Galway) said of the research, “Our research, and recent research by other groups, are generating an emerging body of evidence that climate change will reduce the nutritional quality of many of the world’s staple crops due to the effects of rising temperatures, reduced rainfall and rising CO2 levels on the nutritional composition of the crop-derived foods that underpin global food security and human health”.