Mycotoxins are toxic compounds produced by naturally occurring fungi in grains, nuts and oil seeds. Both aflatoxin and fumonisin levels of crops in Texas are monitored and regulated by the Office of the State Chemist.
Aflatoxins are mycotoxins produced by the fungi, Aspergillus flavus and A. parasiticus. Corn, cottonseed, peanuts, tree nuts and their products can all be contaminated by aflatoxin.
Corn is the most widely grown crop that can be affected by aflatoxin contamination in the U.S.
Heat, drought, high humidity, and insect infestation predispose corn to infection by aflatoxin-producing fungi, which often result in aflatoxin contamination of the grain.
Aflatoxin is a potential health threat to humans, livestock, pets, game birds, trout, deer, and other wildlife. It may cause low rates of weight gain, impaired immune systems, reduced vigor and, in some cases, even death.
Aflatoxin clearly endangers the food supplies and health of both people and animals. This threatens the economic livelihood of farmers, ranchers, commercial feed users, and numerous feed and food industries.
Aflatoxin is a potential problem from the Red River to the Rio Grande of Texas, but can occur anywhere corn is grown. Losses to Aflatoxin contamination can range from minor discounts at time of sale to complete destruction of the crop.
The Office of the State Chemist requires aflatoxin levels to be less than 20 ppb.
Reducing the adverse impacts of aflatoxin in human and animal diets will have a wide-ranging economic benefit. Research investments made by Texas Corn Producers and other agricultural organizations work to reduce direct losses to corn farmers, as well as indirect losses from contaminated corn byproducts.
Atoxigenics are a tool farmers have available to help them mitigate the risks involved in aflatoxin. The Environmental Protection Agency approved the use of both AF 36, a product registered by the Arizona Cotton Research and Protection Council, and Afla-Guard®, a Syngenta Crop Protection product, on corn.
These products are commercial preparations of different strains of the A. flavus fungus that do not produce aflatoxin. Learn more about these products here.
Texas Corn Producers worked closely with the Office of the State Chemist to develop the One Sample Strategy for Aflatoxin Risk Management in Texas. The voluntary program enables grain buyers to accurately measure the level of aflatoxin in every incoming truckload of corn; ultimately, protecting consumers and facilitating commerce.
Learn more about the One Sample Strategy and access a list of approved facilities here.
Texas Corn Producers continues to fund research advancements to mitigate mycotoxin risks for farmers and consumers. Through efforts like the Aflatoxin Mitigation Center of Excellence, organizations are pooling research resources together to work toward a solution.
Learn more about those efforts here.