Mycotoxins, especially the group called aflatoxins, are small molecules toxic to both humans and animals. They are produced by two fungi, Aspergillus flavus and A.Parasiticus. Aflatoxin appears in many agricultural products, but especially in groundnuts (peanuts).
Contamination can occur any time from
pre-harvest to storage. Pre-harvest infection is significant in the
semi-arid tropics, especially when end-of-season drought occurs.
Poor post-harvest conditions in warm humid area,and bad harvesting
and storage practices lead to rapid development of the fingi and
higher levels of toxins. This is especially true in developing
contries where preventive measures are frequently ignored.
Consumption of Aflatoxins by human beings can lead
to liver cancer. A person's chances of contracting cancer are
compounded significantly if he/she carries the hepatitis B virus(the
virus that causes jandice), as do an estimated 20million people in
India. Aflatoxins do their damage by suppressing the immune
response. They affect poultry and, when present in cattle fodder,
the yield and quality of milk. Contaminated groundnuts and groundnut
products cannot reach lucrative international markets, and exports
from Asia and Africa have declined due to the stringent quality
requirements of importing countries.
The enormous health and
economic significance of food and feed contaminants have become
steadily clearer since the 1960s, when mycotoxin was first
discovered. Health issues in the developed world have been largely
addressed, but elsewhere the situation is very different. Recent
studies conducted by ICRISAT
in southern India
reveal aflatoxin levels as high as 40 times permissible limits.
Because both groundnut haulms and the cake made from crushed seeds
are major sources of animal feed. contamination of milk
in both urban and rural areas exposes a huge
cross section of the population, particularly children, to the
terrible effects of aflatoxins.
Selection for Peanut Varieties with Low Aflatoxin Risk
Peanut CSRP activities in collaboration with ICRISAT and NARS in West Africa
the Enabling Technology a Major Achievement of a DFID funded
technologies have been developed for estimation aflatoxin
contamination in various foods and feeds, including milk.
these have provided accurate results rapidly and cost
effectively, and are adaptable to situations in developing
Groundnut Germplasm Project (GGP) funded by CFC
Conservation, Evaluation and Dissemination of Groundnut Germplasm, and Foundation Seed Production and Distribution for the West African Region
This Project addresses issues of aflatoxin contamination in selected countries in West Africa.
Aspergillus flavus and
Post - harvest