By the Blouin News Science & Health staff

Crop stress found to be toxic to humans

by in Environment.

(Source: Erica Wheelan/flickr)

(Source: Erica Wheelan/flickr)

Among the effects of global warming, a little less-talked consequence is food toxins. Of course, climate change affects volumes of crop and other agricultural issues, but a new report by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) says that crops such as wheat and maize are generating more potential toxins as a way to protect themselves from extreme weather.

Reuters quotes Jacqueline McGlade, chief scientist and director of the Division of Early Warning and Assessment at UNEP: “Crops are responding to drought conditions and increases in temperature just like humans do when faced with a stressful situation…Research centers with the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research are developing seeds that are suitable in various regions that have been hit by climate change.”

The chemical compounds crops are developing are toxic to humans. For example, excessive consumption of nitrate can interfere with the ability of red blood cells to transport oxygen in the body, according to the report.

It turns out crops can stress out just like humans. And their stress-produced chemicals are just as bad, and unfortunately present in staple agricultural items like barley, soybeans, millet, and sorghum. Meaning this newly unveiled relationship between extreme weather and food is critical.