An estimated US$63 billion worth of annual losses from crop production in East Asia are associated with ozone pollution, according to a study published in Nature Food. This estimate includes relative yield losses of three major staple crops — wheat, rice and maize — in Japan, China, and South Korea.
The surface concentration of the greenhouse gas, ozone, in Asia is increasing and is expected to continue to do so as the demand for food rises. Exposure to ozone pollution hinders crop growth and agricultural production, thereby posing a risk to food security. Previous attempts to quantify these effects, however, have likely been biased by a lack of observational or experimental data.
Zhaozhong Feng and colleagues developed ozone exposure–response relationships for three major crops (wheat, rice and maize) using experimental data from key production regions in Asia. The authors supplemented this information with measurements of ozone in the air from over 3,000 monitoring sites in China, Japan and South Korea. The highest relative yield losses were found in China — namely 33%, 23% and 9% for wheat, rice and maize, respectively. Overall, total annual losses in crop production as a result of ozone pollution were estimated to be US$63 billion.
The authors conclude that the impact of ozone pollution on crop production underscores the need for stricter ozone emission controls and adaptive measures at the regional level.
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