Case Study: Mycotoxins and Climate Change
Table 1: The favourable environmental conditions for fungi which produce mycotoxins.
|Aflatoxins||Aspergillus flavus Aspergillus parasiticus||Hot and dry. Drought|
|Deoxynivalenol Zearalenone||Fusarium graminearum Fusarium culmorum||Cool, wet, humid at grain fill|
|Fumonisins||Fusarium verticillioides Fusarium proliferatum||Warm to hot, dry at and after flowering|
|Ochratoxin A||Penicillium verrucosum||Dependent on harvest conditions|
The Role of Climate ChangeClimatic conditions will determine the establishment and growth of fungi and the associated natural toxin. Climate change is predicted to change the weather patterns throughout the globe. These changes conditions directly influence the epidemiology of plant disease and may allow regions to become more favorable for fungi growth, and/or change the conditions to become favorable for the growth of new and novel fungi into an area. Moreover, the stress from changing environmental conditions can stress and weaken the kernels of the plant which increases their susceptibility to fungal contamination.For example, Fusarium graminearum and Fusarium culmorum fungi which produce the natural toxin deoxynivalenol proliferate in cool, wet and humid conditions. Increasing rainfall and lower temperatures in a region may introduce or increase the threat from these fungi. This has economic repercussions from the associated disease in grains, i.e. Fusarium Head Blight (FHB) and food safety consequences due to the presence of deoxyivalenol toxins.Similarly, plant productivity can be affected by increases in temperature. Thus, the types of cereals grown for agricultural purposes may change. For example, cereals that are predominately grown in southern Europe may become more viable in more northern regions. This introduces new pests and diseases and prehaps different risks to consumers.
Climate Change AdaptionIn order to adapt to climate change and the associated concerns surrounding mycotoxins, the following recommendations have been suggested:
- The selection of different varieties and species of crops more suited to the environmental conditions
- Risk assessment of emerging mycotoxins in an area and their synergistic effects with others commonly produced in the same geographical location
- Early detection and routine monitoring for mycotoxins
- Implementation of HACCP principles
- Development of predictive models and early warning systems
What we would like you to doPlease watch the following video from EFSA’s YouTube Channel on Mycotoxins and Climate Change – How Europe contributes to global efforts.
This is an additional video, hosted on YouTube.
Farm to Fork: Sustainable Food Production in a Changing Environment
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