Ozone pollution causes millions of tonnes of crop losses each year – not just in the regions where the air pollutants causing increased ozone levels are emitted, but across continents: Pollutants from North America reduce wheat yields in Europe by 1.2 million tonnes each year. On a global scale, pollution from Southeast Asia has the biggest impact, causing the loss of 6.7 million tonnes of wheat and about 11.6 million tonnes of rice each year.
Ozone damages vegetation by damaging plant cells and inhibiting plant growth, and is also harmful to human health, particularly the respiratory system. Earlier studies have valued ozone-induced crop production losses globally at US$11-18 billion per year in 2000, expected to rise to US$12-35 billion per year in 2030.
This new study by the University of Leeds, UK, highlights the need for air pollution impacts on crops to be taken more seriously as a threat to food security in the coming decades.
Source: Stockholm Environment Institute, 1 February 2012