Three-year, $1 million project aims to make human food and animal feed safer
The MycoSafe-South project aims to identify safe-use options for aflatoxin- and fumonisin-contaminated food and feed, to reduce human exposure to fungi-produced mycotoxins from animal protein sources, and to promote education and awareness efforts to understand mycotoxin-associated health risks in humans and animals. The research outcomes focus on human and infrastructural capacity building, and awareness building through on-site training of community, nutritionists, veterinarians, small-scale subsistence farmers and commercial farmers.
“Aflatoxins and fumonisins are harmful mycotoxins that often co-occur, and constitute a serious issue in Africa,” said Dr. Dian Schatzmayr, development team leader mycotoxins at Biomin.
Aflatoxins are potent carcinogens produced by strains of Aspergillus flavus and A. parasiticus. Fumonisins are hepatotoxic, nephrotoxic and immunosuppressive mycotoxins produced by Fusarium proliferatum and F. verticillioides. Both groups of mycotoxins are detrimental to humans and animals. Mycotoxin-contaminated crops fed to animals can carry over into dairy, egg and meat products.
Mycotoxin consumption in Africa has been linked to stunting among children, premature death and illness. Furthermore, mycotoxin contamination limits economic development in that the mycotoxin infestation of crops restrict Africa’s ability to trade agricultural products with the rest of the world.
Delivering science-backed solutions
In addition to providing some funding, Biomin will contribute knowledge and expertise to trials designed to demonstrate safe and efficient detoxification of mycotoxins in African dairy species, African laying hens and African broilers.
“Leveraging our leading EU-authorized technologies to combat mycotoxins, we aim to drastically reduce mycotoxin exposure in animals and limit mycotoxin carryover into food products, which should ultimately deliver real benefits for African consumers,” Schatzmayr said. “Effective mycotoxin mitigation strategies contribute to food security, food safety and sustainability.”
The selection committee of EU LEAP-Agri approved the project, which is co-funded by the Belgian Federal Science Policy Office (BELSPO), Belgian National Fund for Scientific Research (NFSR), Research Council of Norway (RCN), Kenyan Ministry of Education, Science and Technology (MoEST), South Africa’s National Research Foundation (NRF), Biomin and Harbro Ltd.
The LEAP-Agri international review panel acknowledged the research team is strong and very complementary. The project offers post-harvest solutions that are feasible to implement in African countries, and creates opportunities for young researchers by assigning four PhD students to conduct research at European and African institutes. The MycoSafe-South consortium also acknowledges the expertise of BIOMIN in communication and dissemination of project results to stakeholders through newsletters and their worldwide distribution network, already in place in some African countries.