Climate change is creating toxic crops and poisoning some of world’s poorest people, scientists warn

It’s always worse than we thought. This article from the The UK Independent paints a stark gloomy picture of food crops adapting to Climate Change about one step below the Day of the Triffids.

Popular food crops including maize and beans respond to extreme conditions by releasing dangerous chemicals

Climate change threatens to poison the food supply of some of the world’s poorest people as crops respond to rising temperatures by pumping out dangerous chemicals.

When drought strikes, plants like maize, beans and cassava response by flooding themselves with nitrates and hydrogen cyanide – substances that can be fatal to livestock and humans alike.

Further problems arise from the spread of toxin-producing fungal infections under warmer conditions, which are already responsible for thousands of liver cancer cases in Africa every year.

And of course “if temperatures rise” as well as other things.

While these issues are a particular concern in developing nations with hotter climates, if temperatures rise as scientists predict, they will probably begin to take their toll further north as well.

Her interest in the problem was first roused when reports emerged from Ethiopia of impoverished farmers and their animals dying in mysterious circumstances.

The country was in the grip of a drought, but this did not explain the neurological problems that were afflicting these people, including blindness, difficult movements and ultimately death.

Scientists actually identified the real problem.

Researchers working in the area realised the drought had damaged the farmers’ crops, forcing people to consume wild plants they found by the roadside.

But that didn’t stop others from worrying about hypotheticals.

Unfortunately, the stress of drought had also triggered a defence mechanism inside these plants, flooding them with hydrogen cyanide.

Professor McGlade collected all the available information on this topic into a report for the UN back in 2016, in which she and a team of scientists attempted to identify emerging environmental problems.

“What I was trying to do was raise issues long before they become embedded as problems – raising the red flag,” she said.

“Fast-forward to today and we are talking about climate change – here is something that is really going to challenge food safety, because the very plants we are relying on are themselves adapting to climate change.

Read the full story here.

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101 thoughts on “Climate change is creating toxic crops and poisoning some of world’s poorest people, scientists warn

    • We are dead. We’re inhabiting an alternate universe of the living dead that only looks real to us. The doomsday smarty-pantses are inhabiting the real universe.

      • Technically, that only killed most of us.

        Many others were killed in the overpopulation crisis that started in 1800s.

        The few survivors of that were killed during the Net Neutrality Wipeout of 2017.

    • Back around the Cambrian period (before even I was born!), CO2 was 8 times more than it is now, maybe up to 16 times more. That is way past the tipping point, so there was run-away warming. The earth burst into flames and will circle the sun for eternity, just a lifeless cinder.

      Now somebody in the back just said to themselves: “Self, that is the stupidest thing I ever heard!”

      I know that, and now everybody does.

      (It’s called “reductio ad absurdum”. Sort of like satire. I just looked it up.)

    • Never underestimate stupid. There’s always more stupid to be found. it’s a never ending resource.

        • ‘Murphy’ was an optimist.

          Peak stupid is difficult to reach as new demand and rising price makes previously useless sources of stupid suddenly commercially exploitable.

      • Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I’m not sure about the former.
        -Albert Einstein

      • “The difference between genius and stupidity is that genius has its limits”… Albert Einstein
         “They will forgive you for being wrong,” “but they’ll never forgive you for being right.”
        “It is dangerous to be right when the government is wrong”
        “It is very hard to successfully bully someone who is laughing at you.”
        “it is easier to fool a person than it is to convince them they have been fooled”.
        “Science is the belief in the Ignorance of Experts.”… Richard Feynman

    • Just you wait. They’ll think of something. The fact that climate alarmists are getting increasingly shrill, and more inaccurate indicates weakness. ANYTHING is preferable to admitting they’ve been WRONG. They’d have to give up a world view, juicy contracts, and wasted careers to admit that.

    • It took me 8 seconds to realize, if there was a drought animals ( and people) would start eating other plants. It’s not a hard conclusion. During very cold winters in Iowas the deer eat evergreens that they normally would avoid all together, even hemlock.

      • Where I live is currently in severe drought. Grazing stock animals, sheep in this area, are not eating ‘other plants’ because there are no other plants – the ground is bare. They are dying. Native animals are also dying, if they haven’t been able to move.
        The river has stopped flowing and the remnant pools are full of dead fish. Trucks deliver hay in an attempt to save some stock, and water to small villages.

        Are droughts here getting worse? It’s not totally clear, but this one is not about to stop with a forecast of no rain over the next few months.

        • guess youre an aussie?
          if youre to the east then it might change in spite of Bom saying el nino
          because?
          inland floods to lake eyre changes the rain for our betterment
          and the 2 cyclones up north right now will add to that boost

          nature tells you if you look
          the flowering gums in vic started than got whamed by the late 40c heat again
          however i see blooms having another flush this last 3 days
          first time in 14 yrs here Ive seen this occur
          a very good indicator that rains and cool are coming

      • I have a friend who is a large animal veterinarian. He hates spring. Animals get off feed, and go back to the fields, eating all sorts of bad plants.

        “But they are natural!”

        • Toxic crop syndrome.

          Joking aside, your vet friend is right. Dozens of plants are poisonous to livestock and dozens more irritate, pierce, or blister their eyes and muzzles. Some plants cause them to abort, or bear deformed offspring. It’s a tough world out there.
          Milkweed plants are beloved by Monarch butterfly aficionados, but milkweeds are generally poisonous to livestock and as little as an ounce of Jones milkweed will kill a sheep.

          Interestingly, many of the plants domesticated and eaten by man, have quite poisonous cousins, or even poison phases, or parts of the ones we do eat.

          • Tomatoes/nightshade being perhaps the best known.

            Solanum also includes potatoes and eggplant.

            Betcha didn’t know tomatoes and potatoes were related!

            Solanum carolinense, Carolina nightshade, grows around here. I point it out to people, and tell them to leave it alone. The fruits very much resemble cherry tomatoes, but are a dull yellow.

    • I’m living in the wrong age. It would have been great to be in high school now and be required to turn in a science project. Just get high with some retarded friends and a few hours of creativeness results in an A+ and recommendation to MIT.

    • “Climate change is creating toxic crops and poisoning some of world’s poorest people, (Monsanto) scientists warn.”

      sarc! (just in case)

    • rational people dont…but just wait..there WILL be more even crazier to come.

      people ate NON standard wild plants and got crook…so it had nothing to do with normal crops being toxic at all

      the art of smoke n mirrors indeed.

  1. I seem to remember that manioc (cassava) has always had toxic levels of cyanide, and some crops, like peanuts, were generally prone to aflatoxin contamination.
    As there was no quantification of how much either increased due to either drought or heat, I do believe someone is playing off ignorance.

    • You are correct about manioc, that is why it is soaked in water before it is eaten. By the way, I have eaten it and I guess you have to have a taste for it, it is not something I would cross the street to get unless I was starved.

      • The seeds of stone fruit such as apricots, cherries, plums and peaches contain amygdalin which is converted to hydrogen cyanide when eaten. I remember the seeds being put into jam to give a bit of crunch, but suppose the heating in the jam making process resulted in the cyanide breaking down.
        Or maybe the cook was trying to get rid of us pesky youngters. It didn’t work.
        Much of the problem with aflatoxin in peanuts was caused by poor storage conditions. It was responsible with the death of numbers of turkeys in the UK back in the 1960s from liver poisoning.

        • theyre used to impart that bitter almond background flavour more than “crunch”
          I use about 1/4 of the pits when making apricot jam especially
          and fig with almond is yum but if no almonds then I use saved apricot ot peach etc pits in that too
          you really DO have to eat a LOT of them to get crook
          the idiots who munched entire 200gram bags f stone fruit pits and did get ill gave the possibly useful health benefits a bad rep
          you eat the same amount of pits as fruit ie one apricot and its pit
          if you ate 10 apricots you’d prob get the trots even without the pits
          natures way of saying “you’ve been a piggy”
          and would naturally limit overeating abuse of the pits as well
          most things seem to have a total plant symbiosis. ie more than one ingredient is the good guy(or bad)
          pharma decides one bits the good bit n throws the rest out
          not so wise.

  2. BUT…was it Consuming their potentially altered Crop Food that made them sick or consuming the “Wild Plants found by the Road Side”? Certainly not advisable to consume road kill anything nor to consume any food found on the side of the road. Too much opportunity for contamination.

    • Some of the best eateries I have ever eaten at were roadside stands. Just the occasional risk of dysentery to liven up the experience, but some good eats.

  3. I’m with oeman50 but each time we think they’ve reached the bottom they surprise us. Here in the USA we have lots and lots of politicians who will parrot this garbage as if it’s science.

    People dying in Ethiopia is certainly concerning as we’ve never seen this happen before. I play the washtub bass and maybe with a few friends we can put on a charity concert.

    • The truly disgusting thing about the famine in Ethiopia was that it was the result of a “land reform” program by the Mengistu government than a drought, which the legacy media did not mention at the time.

    • The washtub base is a great add when “makin’ music”. Though I guess that few of the readers here have had the opportunity to hear one. Seems to usually be found when folks in the valley gather and bring along their fiddle, harmonica, and various string implements and feast on what ever happens to be in season (i.e. deer, bear, fish, or plain old pork) and the beverages of choice.

  4. Don’t you need to shut your eyes to the Triffids or you will go blind? Or is this a euphemism for the whole climate debate in general?

  5. Cassava is always more or less poisonous and must be processed before being eaten. Non-toxic varieties have been developed, but farmers prefer the poisonous ones since they are much more pest resistant.

    Eating wild plants without knowing what you are doing is never a good idea. Many plants produce toxic compounds expressly to avoid being eaten. This is always so, come drought or flood, though many species are known to produce proportionally more toxic compounds in drought condition, probably as an adapattion since the pressure on plants by animal consumers increase in drought conditions.

    • tty,

      Kidney beans are naturally toxic and must be boiled for a long period to make them safe for consumption.

    • tty and Jan E Christoffersen
      Usually the processing of cassava (and kidney beans) requires quantities of water. Soaking then boiling.

      When the area is an drought there is a lot less water to process the toxins out of the food, thus people end up eating food that is naturally toxic, or they die of starvation.

  6. so drought ruined food crops.. so people ate non-food plants which are inedible and toxic…. so they died….. and this equals “OH NO MAN MADE CLIMATE CHANGE IS KILLING MORE PEOPLE THAN EVER!!!” sorry for the all caps…. was channeling my deranged alarmist persona. All of this climate BS is so lacking in critical thinking and logic that it would be laughable if it weren’t wasting so much money and doing so much real harm to science and humanity….

    uhhggg!

    Joe

  7. The annual swings in local temps greatly exceed the 1.5c global temp swing over the last 150 years – time to have a seat at the table of reality

  8. More Climate Derangement Syndrome. Can someone please find a cure for these poor, deluded souls? Like a withdrawal of all grants linked to this bollocks?

  9. “…crops respond to rising temperatures by pumping out dangerous chemicals.”

    Well, yes, CO2 IS dangerous if that’s what YOU as a human animal inhale without thinking about the consequences. But all those other things they’re referring to kind of lean toward the seeds for the Giant Beanstalks that Jack brought down.

    I just want to be clear about my view of this: everything on this planet is hostile toward us and everything else. Cows are hostile toward grass and try to kill it by eating it. Somehow, they don’t quite succeed. Chickens are hostile toward bugs and eat them if they can find them. (Great for clearing out the nasty things that lurk in the tomato plants.) PETA is hostile toward pets and wants to destroy them all, no matter what they say.

    So what message is the Independent trying to send to us? They should stop issuing printed papers. They are hostile toward plants. Just sayin’.

    • I can’t help buy wonder if the plant doesn’t just get dehydrated….and that concentrates the toxins

  10. Most of these crops grow in every state in the US, even Alaska. How does a bean know what climate it is supposed to ‘like’ and which is supposed to put out its poisons?
    However, if this study was funded with taxpayer money, it must be ok.

  11. This article is a complete warmunist mess, even in the original rather than the excerpts. I just double checked.

    Corn does NOT produce cyanide, ever. What was referred to was increased risk of the corn fungus aspergillus produced aflatoxin. The riskmis greater in wet years or wet corn storage. NOT drought years.
    Cassava always has some hydrogen cyanide, more in the bitter aubtypes, (just like wild almonds) so is always specially prepared by soaking then discarding the soak water. AGW won’t change that.

    Sorghum is an Ethiopian crop staple grain because drought resistant. When the sorghum crops failed, Ethiopians fed themselves and their livestock wild varieties according to the article reporting on the talk. Unfortunately, the most common wildtype is the invasive US weed Johnson grass, aka cyanide grass. Indigenous to Ethiopia, and VERY toxic. Can kill cows in the US. Nothing to do with AGW, everything to do with poor illiterate farmers not knowing all sorghum is not equal. BTW, eating wild almonds can kill from cyanide poisoning also.

    • Teff was/is the staple Ethiopian highlands’ grain & it is different than their lowland crop sorghum; their nutritional profiles are not the same. I ate Teff there in villages regularly in 1970 prepared fermented & then cooked into a large shared flat cake (“injera”) that everyone tore pieces off & dipped in a bit of lentil/greens sauce (“wat”) that was very hot.

  12. And they never once thought this might apply to food being grown under the stress of lower levels of available plant nutrients and higher pest populations? Well it does. Think “organic” here.

  13. I loved the Day of the Triffads. All we gotta do is spray down the crops with sea water. Apparently that movie was a How-to!

  14. These folks never stop and think about what warming Climate Change really means. This article assumes that “hotter” corresponds to drier, i.e. drought. Yet hotter also means more evaporation, which is water in the sky. What does water in the sky do? I’m thinking clouds will form. More clouds than today even. What do clouds do? Do they warm the atmosphere? Do they cool the atmosphere? The answer is kind of important. I’m thinking the atmosphere will cool. What happens to the water in the sky when temperatures drop. I’m thinking that rain will fall. Exactly where is the drought?

    Do these folks ever study climate or do they just assume hotter means drier? I am more and more frustrated at scientists in varied fields just assuming that hotter will mean worse and assign problems automatically to climate change when they don’t even know how 1 degree, or 2 degrees or 3 degrees will actually affect what they are studying. I continually think about the size of insects here in the Midwest when compared to the Gulf Coast states. I can almost assure you that hotter temperatures are good for cockroaches!

    • The one thing we can be sure of is that any form of climate change will be for the worse. There is no way that some dry or cold areas will become more fruitful through an increase in rainfall or temperature – it’s either floods or droughts. (sarc)

    • In the tropics the wet season is in summer. As the land heats air rises and moist air is drain in from the ocean to fall as rain.

      In winter the process reverses. The land cools and dry air descents over the land and carries any remaining moisture out to see.

      The Indian ocean monsoon is driven by this process and reverses the entire air and moisture flow, allowing annual boat travel by sail from Africa to Indonesia and back.

  15. “if temperatures rise as scientists predict, they will probably begin to take their toll further north as well.”
    1st of all drought has nothing to do with temperature rise. If anything temperature rise would induce more evaporation and more condensation. THIS IS NOT SCIENCE. 97% of climate science studies are now garbage.

  16. Gee, you’d think there’d be gazillions of tons of crop data from drought stressed food crops at least here in north America over the last century and a half that would tell us exactly what happens to those stressed crops, and would tell us exactly what the human health effects are of consuming such crops.

    It ain’t a mystery.

  17. How long, O Lord, how long — 2025, 2030?– before deviant catastrophists begin to feel an actual, not metaphoric chill? As brutal cold grips Earth’s 7.7 billion naïvely lulled inhabitants, Luddite sociopaths sabotaging global energy economies will have mega-deaths to answer for.

    Cyclical reality bites deep: First, Earth’s Holocene Interglacial Epoch ended the Medieval Warm in AD 1350, beginning a 500-year, carbon-neutral Little Ice Age through 1850/1890. Second, the current 140-year rebound from this LIA is ending with a fiercely chill “dead sun” absence of cyclic sunspots, a Grand Solar Minimum due to persist 70 years to AD 2100+. Third, coinciding with an overdue Magnetic Pole Reversal stripping away Earth’s “plasma sheath” shielding life from cosmic rays, radical declines in total solar irradiance (TSI) presage recurrent 102-kiloyear Pleistocene ice sheets covering 70% of Earth’s habitable landmasses with glaciers 2.5 miles thick.

    In face of this, we sing an ancient song:

    Sparks on darkling meadows do a dance,
    Wakening worlds to Life and Light at last.
    Streams rush to rivers, flowing into sea;
    Lands and kingdoms flourish, fall away.

    Spirits of Earth repose in far abodes–
    As rains we come, on rising winds we go.

  18. When did you last hear of someone dying because they sat down and ate 2kg of almonds?

    When did someone last die in their car whilst taking laurel bush trimmings to the dump.

    Produce cyanides, yes, but not a problem in the real world is it!

  19. The Independent might have been once – now it’s a “pretend newspaper” funded by foreign oligarchs and governments who’ve been conned into thinking it’s worth pouring money into …

    – and their journalistic standards are simply woeful.

    Paint it white and fit some tusks.

    • Put some lipstick on it and teach it to sing just don’t try to make Silk Purses out of its ears

  20. I do hope they are not felling trees or wasting recycle material for use with The Independent. It is a total waste of materials and energy.

  21. Uhhhh . . . did Professor McGlade or any of the other “researchers” (“scientists”) working with her bother to first define what they mean be the term “climate change”?

    I haven’t yet seen any politician, distinguished science person or scientific group, anywhere, at any time, precisely define what they meant by the term “climate change”? So what are they protesting/fighting to prevent?
    — the world getting hotter in summers, or colder in winters, or vice versa?
    — movement of the polar vortex?
    — the world suffering from flooding, or from droughts?
    — the world suffering from too much CO2, or too little CO2 for optimum crop growth to feed humanity?
    — the world suffering from too much cloud cover, or too little cloud cover?
    — the world suffering from too many insects (pests), or too few insects (species extinction)?
    — the world suffering from too many El Ninos, or too many La Ninas?
    — the world suffering from too much wind (claimed increase in storms of all types) or too little wind (for windmill power farms to be reliable)?
    — the world suffering from too few sunspots or too many sunspots?
    — the world suffering from declining Arctic ice cover or increasing Antarctic ice cover?

    Well, you get my drift . . . so much call for action, so little understanding of what to actually do.

    • “Gordon Dressler March 19, 2019 at 1:26 pm

      — the world suffering from too much CO2…”

      In every discussion with people who think the planet is doomed because of CO2 from fossil fuels, let alone bacteria, termites, plants etc, I ask how much CO2 is there in the air right now?

      *crickets chirping*

      So, I say, and provide a link, according to NASA, the concentration is ~410ppm/v, or ~0.041%. The first questions to me in response are “What does “~” mean?”. The next is “What does ppm/v mean?”. Followed by claims I made up the NASA data. Seriously.

      I then ask how much CO2 is too much?

      *crickets chirping*

      There endeth the discussion!

      • Don’t tell them those percentages are for dry air. That would probably blow their minds. The top three gases make up more than 99.9% of the air (not counting water vapor), and that doesn’t include carbon dioxide.

        Jim

  22. >>
    . . . one step below the Day of the Triffids.
    <<

    I didn’t think anything could be one step below the Day of the Triffids. After reading this article, I agree with CTM.

    Jim

  23. The rate of deaths by suicide is off the charts, depressing crap like this has got to be a factor. In a recent visit to the doctors office the receptionist, nurse and doctor asked if I was feeling depressed along with other questions to pry into my self esteem.

    There needs to be a list to keep track of those causing hundreds of thousands of deaths in their pursuit of power and money or just trying to be accepted by the ‘socialist mob’.

    Mostly, the MSM needs to be taken to task for: ‘If it bleeds it leads, and if it isn’t bleeding make it so.

  24. ‘flooding themselves with nitrates and hydrogen cyanide – substances that can be fatal to livestock and humans alike’

    Perhaps she can provide us with the names of some of the people killed by cyanide in their corn flakes.

    Toxicity is in the dose. Cyanide is rather common in foods humans consume. ‘Can be fatal’ is a head fake. Sure, in the right dose. But that has nothing to do with corn.

  25. Look, clisci folk, you are forgetting your own basics. The tropics DO NOT WARM in the processs! Remember that. They stay the same except for a couple of degrees short term natural variation. It is boring. I’ve spent a good deal of time there. The temperature in Lagos was a couple of degrees either side of 29C in the 1960s, the same again when I went in 1997 and, apparently, the same now (world was cold in the 1960s (Ice-Age cometh! and hot in 1997 (end of world thermageddon), but Lagos, Nigeria stayed the same). It stayed the same when warming stopped for two decades, too.

    Poor folk there will have no clinate change, okay. So their cassava tasted like cyanide both times I was there, although when made into french fries, which are delicious, I couldnt detect the cyanide on my tongue and certainly not on my stomach. My grandfather and my sister used to eat their apple cores and also, after eating a peach, cracked the pit and ate the nut inside, holding forth on how a bit of cyanide was good for you.

  26. When I was a kid my parents always had a couple of milk cows and we used the raw milk. When it had an off taste we always said that the cows had been eating ragweed.

  27. The goal of this is to put the “facts” as far away from where anyone typically arguing or reviewing could go and place it into the poorest of the poor communities where data is non-existent hence the conclusions can never be falsified.

  28. Oh noes, if we don’t shape up pronto, the plants could turn into ones that feed only on human flesh and blood. Then we’ll be sorry! Gaia’s revenge indeed.

  29. Climate change threatens to poison the food supply of some of the world’s poorest people as crops respond to rising temperatures by pumping out dangerous chemicals.
    When drought strikes, plants like maize, beans and cassava response by flooding themselves with nitrates and hydrogen cyanide – substances that can be fatal to livestock and humans alike.

    Rising temperatures in an actual greenhouse are much higher than what any climate change will achieve. Farmers use greenhouses to improve yields and grow crops that otherwise wouldn’t survive. If a little rise in temperatures produce toxics then greenhouse crops must be full of them according to these.

    Secondly when it comes to drought, crops are watered daily anyway whether it rains or not in most cases. Farmers generally have never relied on only rainfall to water their crops for centuries.

    The warmest regions around especially the Tropics hardly have any change in temperatures, so the general concern is irrelevant because it is far more to do with techniques and practices then relying on just the weather. Unless we all go back to medieval farming or before this concern is only scare mongering as usual when anything is blamed on the religion climate change.

    • Hi Matt G, – Crops are not watered daily; maybe you are thinking of plant nurseries as being set up for daily watering. For centuries farming has been rain-fed agriculture & some fortunate land holdings have had irrigation access. The technology of motorized pumps & greenhouse growing have not been widespread for hundreds of years. I assume your 2nd paragraph was written quickly & posted without review.

    • The second paragraph does indeed need correcting and/or adding more detail because farmers do mainly use rainfall for watering crops where there is normally plenty.

      They use irrigation in times and places in which rainwater is not enough. Irrigation has been a central feature of agriculture for over 5,000 years and is the product of many cultures.

      “The Indus Valley Civilization developed sophisticated irrigation and water-storage systems, including artificial reservoirs at Girnar dated to 3000 BCE, and an early canal irrigation system from c. 2600 BCE. Large-scale agriculture was practiced, with an extensive network of canals used for the purpose of irrigation”

      Different farming watering techniques vary from daily to longer periods depending on the type of irrigation. Some of the oldest ways would have been simply using labour for watering crops with buckets or equivalent during desperate times.

      There are several methods of irrigation.

      Surface irrigation is the oldest form of irrigation and has been in use for thousands of years. Micro-irrigation, drip irrigation, sprinkler irrigation and subirrigation are later forms with the most recent still been in use for many years.

  30. “And of course “if temperatures rise” as well as other things.”

    Well, at least they said “if”.

  31. So a plant that’s grown from the Canadian border down into central and southern America, is all of a sudden going to turn toxic because the atmosphere warms up another degree or so?

    Anyway, from the limited description above, it sounds more like aflotoxin.

  32. So, if you are in South Carolina, the food in North Carolina is poisonous. Of course if you live in Georgia, the food in South Carolina is poisonous.

  33. The UK Independent. Toxic fish-‘n-chip wrapper … small print at bottom of page 4 says:

    “Caution: Health authorities warn this product is not suitable for use as a toilet paper.”

    • It was a sad day when the EU told British fush-n-chup shops that their fish-n-chips could not be sold on used news paper sheets.

    • But, again, they are NOT toxic. Toxicity depends on the dose. Cyanide in corn is NOT toxic.

      You could, theoretically, process corn to extract cyanide and concentrate it so that it would be toxic. The Independent is using the ignorance of this to scare people.

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