Hmm… aflatoxin afflicts maize mainly after insect damage – a problem greatly reduced by utilizing… Bt Corn. It’s also part of the reason greenies are ‘agin it’, good nutrition leads to greater people survival.
The fight to control contamination of key staple foods in Africa by mycotoxins – poisonous chemicals secreted by naturally occurring fungi which attack crops in the field and during storage, making them unfit for human and livestock consumption at high levels of contamination – has been stepped up in Tanzania with the launch of two new research initiatives.
The first research initiative will document the extent of mycotoxin contamination in food and the second will develop a comprehensive and lasting solution to reduce mycotoxins in the country to improve the health and livelihoods of millions of families in the country and reduce loss of income from banned trade of contaminated food.
Among the key targeted mycotoxins is aflatoxin produced by the fungus Aspergillus flavus. Dubbed the ‘silent killer’, it has been shown to cause liver cancer and suppresses the body’s immune system at high levels of contamination, while the most severe levels of poisoning results in liver failure and death. Some studies indicate that aflatoxin contamination could be responsible for critically impairing the growth and development of children
Livestock are also affected through consumption of contaminated feeds which can lead to reduced growth, yields and even death. Mycotoxins are also passed on to human beings when they consume infected meat or milk.
Studies by the Tanzania Food and Drugs Administration (TFDA) have documented levels of aflatoxins in maize – the country’s number one staple food – that are way above the recommended maximum limits. However, knowledge on the extent of the problem across the country is lacking hampering awareness and efforts to control it.