Aflatoxin Impacts and Potential Solutions in Agriculture, Trade, and Health
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Aflatoxins are naturally occurring toxins produced by certain fungi, most importantly Aspergillus flavus and Aspergillus parasiticus. Aflatoxins contaminate many African dietary staples such as maize, groundnuts, rice, and cassava, particularly under certain conditions: dry weather during planting, high moisture during harvest, inadequate drying and storage of crops. Countries in latitudes between 40°N and 40°S—which includes all of Africa—are susceptible to aflatoxin contamination. Aflatoxin contamination of key staples—maize, groundnuts and sorghum—occurs above safe levels in many African countries. Prevalence data from Africa suggests that aflatoxin contamination in maize, groundnuts and sorghum is higher than the European Union aflatoxin standard (4 ppb) and that of USA (20 ppb) in many countries. However, even aflatoxin exposure at low levels can result in measurable human health impacts.This paper provides an overview of the impacts of aflatoxin in the agriculture, trade, and health sectors in Africa, as well as the range of solutions that are being developed. The paper serves as background reading for the Partnership for Aflatoxin Control in Africa (PACA) Strategy Development – Stakeholder Consultation Workshop.