African initiative against food toxins
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CTA. 1996. African initiative against food toxins. Spore 62. CTA, Wageningen, The Netherlands.
Permanent link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/10568/47306
meeting held in Cotonou, Benin, in November 1995
Representatives of eight African countries (Benin, Cameroon, The Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Kenya, South Africa and Uganda) have initiated an action plan to reduce the contamination of maize by harmful fungi. These fungi produce mycotoxins which are carcinogenic. A meeting held in Cotonou, Benin, in November 1995, brought together people who are involved in agriculture, public health and medical research. The meeting heard the results of a survey carried out in Benin by the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), which hosted the conference. The survey showed that the incidence of contamination of stored maize by the fungus Aspergillus flavus, was far greater than had been thought. Some of the infection is occurring in the field, but it is suspected that many farm stores harbour the fungus in the mud walls and thatched roofs, leading to an increased mycotoxin contamination of grain whilst in store. There is now enough evidence to show that people are at risk when they consume grain con taminated with mycotoxins. They definitely increase the incidence of oesophageal cancer, and it is suspected that some nutritional disorders of children may be due to the toxic compounds. The meeting in Cotonou determined that a priority was to investigate the link between mycotoxins and human disease and funding for this research is now being sought. Representatives from African countries agreed to put more effort into reducing mycotoxin contamination by creating greater awareness of the problem. They will strive for greater collaboration between countries by setting up the Mycotoxin African Initiative, with funding from African and international donors. Until the proper mechanism is set up, a steering group consisting of the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture and the African Medical Research Foundation will coordinate activities. International Institute of Tropical Agriculture B P 0&0932 Cotonou BENIN