As they struggle to deal with more extreme weather, a range of food crops are generating more of chemical compounds that can cause health problems for people and livestock who eat them, scientists have warned.
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 reaction to protect themselves from extreme weather.
But these chemical compounds are harmful to people and animals if consumed for a prolonged period of time, according to a report released during a United Nations Environment Assembly meeting in Nairobi.
“Crops are responding to drought conditions and increases in temperature just like humans do when faced with a stressful situation,” explained Jacqueline McGlade, chief scientist and director of the Division of Early Warning and Assessment at UNEP.
Under normal conditions, for instance, plants convert nitrates they absorb into nutritious amino acids and proteins. But prolonged drought slows or prevents this conversion, leading to more potentially problematic nitrate accumulating in the plant, the report said.
If people eat too much nitrate in their diets, it can interfere with the ability of red blood cells to transport oxygen in the body, the report said.| | | Next → | Single Page