Chernobyl Wheat Has Higher Than Expected Mutations
LONDON (Reuters) - Fourteen years after the Chernobyl nuclear disaster, wheat grown in Ukraine near the nuclear power station is six times more likely to show mutations than crops grown in uncontaminated soil, scientists said Wednesday.
A report in Nature journal by Olga Kovalchuk of the Friedrich Miescher Institute at the Novartis Research Foundation in Switzerland, and colleagues, compared a wheat crop grown near Chernobyl with a genetically identical crop 19 miles away.
After one generation the Chernobyl crop showed a rate of mutation six times higher than the crop grown in the clean soil, the report said.
The scientists said the mutation rate was not in keeping with the levels of radiation.
``We estimate that the wheat plants have been exposed to relatively low doses of chronic irradiation. Theoretically this low-level exposure should not cause such a large increase in the mutation rate,'' Kovalchuk and her colleagues said.
They concluded that the high mutation rate indicated that ''chronic exposure to ionizing radiation has effects that are as yet unknown.''
Further research was needed to analyze the genetic effects of chronic radiation exposure, the scientists added.
Mutations at TMI