University of Montana researchers said converting natural vegetation to agricultural lands will lead to more CO2 in the atmosphere, and potentially contribute to global warming.
UM researchers said global food production needs to double by the year 2050 to support the world's population.
This means more natural vegetation, like rain forests, must be converted to croplands.
But, researchers said unlike trees and other natural vegetation, crops like cereal grains do not keep the atmosphere clear of carbon.
Bill Smith, a UM postdoctoral researcher, said, "If you convert a tropical forest to agriculture, you get huge reductions in the uptake of carbon, so the amount of carbon being taken up by plants is reduced greatly, so there's more CO2 in the atmosphere then."
Researchers said future crop growers need to improve agricultural methods to help reduce CO2 in the atmosphere.
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