Aflatoxins: Finding solutions for improved food safety
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Unnevehr, L. and Grace, D. (eds). 2013. Aflatoxins: Finding solutions for improved food safety. IFPRI 2020 Focus Brief 20. Washington, DC: IFPRI.
Permanent link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/10568/33955
A key tenet of the CGIAR Research Program on Agriculture for Nutrition and Health (A4NH) is that agricultural practices, interventions, and policies can be better configured both to maximize health and nutrition benefits and to reduce health risks. This is particularly true regarding aflatoxins and other mycotoxins, an important food safety health risk with significant implications for developing countries. Aflatoxin exposure is particularly problematic in low-income populations in the tropics that consume relatively large quantities of staples, particularly maize and groundnuts. The best documented health impact of chronic exposure to aflatoxins is liver cancer. It is estimated that 26,000 Africans living south of the Sahara die annually of liver cancer associated with aflatoxin exposure. Broader health effects such as immune suppression with higher rates of illness and child stunting have also been associated with aflatoxin exposure. The presence of aflatoxins can also limit the growth of commercial markets and trade. As but one example, aflatoxin contamination has sharply limited the quantities of maize that the World Food Programme has been able to purchase locally in Africa since 2007. Given the complexity of the problem of controlling aflatoxins, IFPRI’s 2020 Vision Initiative and A4NH invited Laurian Unnevehr and Delia Grace to convene a diverse panel of global aflatoxin experts to write briefs surveying the emerging policy-relevant research. We would like to express our appreciation to the editors, Laurian Unnevehr and Delia Grace, the authors of the briefs, and the anonymous peer reviewers for their contributions to this effort. This set of 2020 Vision briefs provides key insights into aflatoxin control and how we can bring about a shift from a market characterized by poor information, low food quality, and high public health risk to one in which improvements in both information and technology facilitate better market opportunities and income, higher quality food, and reduced health risk.