Aflatoxins: Finding solutions for improved food safety

Laurian J. Unnevehr, ed., Delia Grace, ed.
2020 vision focus

Aflatoxins are a naturally occurring carcinogenic byproduct of common fungi on grains and other crops, particularly maize and groundnuts. They pose a significant public health risk in many tropical developing countries and are also a barrier to the growth of domestic and international commercial markets for food and feed. In recent years the aflatoxin problem has garnered greatly increased attention from both policy and donor communities around the globe.

What can be done to reduce the detrimental impacts of aflatoxins? Because growth of the molds that produce aflatoxins is caused by multiple factors, and because they must be controlled along the entire value chain from production to consumption, only a robust multifaceted approach to controlling aflatoxins is likely to be effective.

The nineteen briefs in this set thus provide different perspectives on aflatoxin risks and solutions. The analyses fall under four broad themes: (1) what is known about the health risks from aflatoxins; (2) how to overcome market constraints to improved aflatoxin control by building new market channels and incentives; (3) what is the international policy context for taking action in developing countries; and (4) what is the state of research on new aflatoxin control technologies, including new methods for aflatoxin detection, crop breeding, biological control, food storage and handling, and postharvest mitigation.

These briefs collectively provide a much clearer picture of the state of current efforts at combatting aflatoxins. They also identify what gaps loom particularly large—including the need for contry-specific risk analysis and for testing integrated solutions for the entire supply chain—in our global efforts to effectively reduce human exposure to aflatoxins and increase the economic returns to smallholders in agriculture.

Table of contents

Introduction Shenggen Fan, Rajul Pandya-Lorch, and John McDermott

  • Brief 1: Tackling Aflatoxins: An Overview of Challenges and Solutions Laurian Unnevehr and Delia Grace
  • Brief 2: Aflatoxicosis: Evidence from Kenya Abigael Obura
  • Brief 3: Aflatoxin Exposure and Chronic Human Diseases: Estimates of Burden of Disease Felicia Wu
  • Brief 4: Child Stunting and Aflatoxins Jef L. Leroy
  • Brief 5: Animals and Aflatoxins Delia Grace
  • Brief 6: Managing Mycotoxin Risks in the Food Industry: The Global Food Security Link David Crean
  • Brief 7: Farmer Perceptions of Aflatoxins: Implications for Intervention in Kenya Sophie Walker and Bryn Davies
  • Brief 8: Market-led Aflatoxin Interventions: Smallholder Groundnut Value Chains in Malawi Andrew Emmott
  • Brief 9: Aflatoxin Management in the World Food Programme through P4P Local Procurement Stéphane Méaux, Eleni Pantiora, and Sheryl Schneider
  • Brief 10: Reducing Aflatoxins in Africa’s Crops: Experiences from the Aflacontrol Project Clare Narrod
  • Brief 11: Cost-Effectiveness of Interventions to Reduce Aflatoxin Risk Felicia Wu
  • Brief 12: Trade Impacts of Aflatoxin Standards Devesh Roy
  • Brief 13: Codex Standards: A Global Tool for Aflatoxin Management Renata Clarke and Vittorio Fattori
  • Brief 14: The Role of Risk Assessment in Guiding Aflatoxin Policy Delia Grace and Laurian Unnevehr
  • Brief 15: Mobilizing Political Support: Partnership for Aflatoxin Control in Africa Amare Ayalew, Wezi Chunga, and Winta Sintayehu
  • Brief 16: Biological Controls for Aflatoxin Reduction Ranajit Bandyopadhyay and Peter J. Cotty
  • Brief 17: Managing Aflatoxin Contamination of Maize: Developing Host Resistance George Mahuku, Marilyn L. Warburton, Dan Makumbi, and Felix San Vicente
  • Brief 18: Reducing Aflatoxins in Groundnuts through Integrated Management and Biocontrol Farid Waliyar, Moses Osiru, Hari Kishan Sudini, and Samuel Njoroge
  • Brief 19: Improving Diagnostics for Aflatoxin Detection Jagger Harvey, Benoit Gnonlonfin, Mary Fletcher, Glen Fox, Stephen Trowell, Amalia Berna, and Ross Darnell