Air quality improvements can strengthen China’s food security

Xiang Liu, Bowen Chu, Rong Tang, Yifan Liu, Bo Qiu, Meng Gao, Xing Li, Jingfeng Xiao, Haitong Zhe Sun, Xin Huang, Ankur R. Desai, Aijun Ding, Haikun Wang*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review


Air pollution exerts crucial influence on crop yields and impacts regional and global food supplies. Here we employ a statistical model using satellite-based observations and flexible functional forms to analyse the synergistic effects of reductions in ozone and aerosols on China’s food security. The model consistently shows that ozone is detrimental to crops, whereas aerosol has variable effects. China’s maize, rice and wheat yields are projected to increase by 7.84%, 4.10% and 3.43%, respectively, upon reaching two air quality targets (60 μg m−3 for peak-season ozone and 35 μg m−3 for annual fine particulate matter). Average calories produced from these crops would surge by 4.51%, potentially allowing China to attain grain self-sufficiency 2 years earlier than previously estimated. These results show that ozone pollution control should be a high priority to increase staple crop edible calories, and future stringent air pollution regulations would enhance China’s food security.

Original languageEnglish
JournalNature Food
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 2 Jan 2024

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Food Science
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Agronomy and Crop Science


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