Food crops could be generating more chemical compounds in response to extreme weather, damaging our health.
A new report from the United Nations Environment Assembly says that crops such as wheat and maize are generating more potential toxins as a reaction to protect themselves from extreme weather.
Some drought-stressed crops, when then exposed to sudden large amounts of rain that lead to rapid growth, in turn accumulate hydrogen cyanide, more commonly known as prussic acid – one of the ingredients used in some types of chemical warfare – interferes with oxygen flow in humans. These chemical compounds are harmful to people and animals if consumed for a prolonged period of time.
Plants typically convert nitrates to amino acids and proteins, but prolonged drought slows or prevents this conversion. This results in nitrates accumulating in the plant, which for people and animals, can interfere with the ability of red blood cells to transport oxygen in the body.