Crops respond to the stress of warming temperatures in much the same way that humans respond to traffic or job interviews, according to a new United Nations Environment Program report.
The UNEP report states that food crops respond to climate stress by producing chemical compounds to protect themselves from extreme weather. The only problem is the heightened presence of the chemicals could prove toxic to humans and animals.
"We are just beginning to recognize the magnitude of toxin-related issues confronting farmers in developing countries of the tropics and sub-tropics," write the report's authors.
Scientists say that at normal temperatures, under normal growing conditions, plants are able to convert nitrate into amino acids and proteins. Extreme weather events, however, can cause the accumulation of a compound called hydrogen cyanide as well as a type of fungus called mycotoxins.