GETZERSDORF, AUSTRIA — BIOMIN recently announced its participation in a three-year, nearly $1 million project to tackle mycotoxin-related food safety issues in sub-Saharan Africa.

The MycoSafe-South project aims to identify safe-use options for aflatoxins- and fumonisins-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 Dian Schatzmayr, development team leader for mycotoxins at BIOMIN.

According to 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,” BIOMIN said. “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.”

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 E.U.-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 E.U. 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 complementary. The project offers post-harvest solutions that are feasible to implement in African countries, and creates opportunities for young researchers by assigning 4 PhD students to conduct research at both European and African institutes. The MycoSafe-South consortium also noted 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.

BIOMIN will host the MycoSafe-South project kick-off on Oct. 2 in Cape Town, South Africa, prior to the start of the 2018 World Nutrition Forum.

“We highly value the opportunity to engage with scientists and the global academic community through conferences and knowledge exchanges about animal nutrition,” Schatzmayr, said. “We look forward to welcoming the MycoSafe-South team to Cape Town.”