Huge quantities of food are wasted every year because they are invaded by toxic fungi or fungal products. This is most likely to occur in hotter countries where food shortages may already be a problem. One estimate is that mycotoxins affect a quarter of the world's food crops, including many basic foodstuffs and animal feed, as well as cash crops like coffee which have high economic value. When eaten, mycotoxins have a cumulative effect and are a major health threat to both humans and livestock.
Because of the scale of this problem, which also affects European crops, EC Framework Programmes have included several projects to investigate toxic fungi in food crops. The MYCO-GLOBE Specific Support Action was set up to share the results with other countries with bilateral science and technology agreements with the EU, in the wider framework of a global information system on mycotoxins and toxigenic fungi. The consortium of acknowledged world experts acted as a steering committee, and operated through an international network.
CLUSTER FOR MYCOTOXIN PREVENTION
Ten of the completed EU projects formed a natural group of research into mycotoxins and have been consolidated into the Mycotoxin Prevention Cluster. They covered topics like detection techniques, hazard and risk assessment, prevention of some fungal infections, biological control agents, novel test kits and advanced genomic tools for breeding resistant species. They involved more than 60 research groups in the Member States. Work included food safety and quality monitoring systems, and improvement of soil biocontrol agents. MYCO-GLOBE ensured that their findings reached the people who need them urgently.
SPREADING THE WORD
One aim of MYCO-GLOBE was to share the technology developed by EU research on the control of mycotoxins and toxigenic fungi. The Myco-Globe launch conference, together with Mycotoxin Prevention Cluster Dissemination Day, was held on 21-22 October 2004 in Brussels, and presented the results of the Mycotoxin Prevention Cluster and an overview on mycotoxins and toxigenic fungi in other continents. This was followed by a longer conference in Africa, 'Learning from the EU: reducing impact of mycotoxins in tropical agriculture with emphasis on health and trade', held in September 2005, in Ghana, focusing on those mycotoxins representing the greatest challenge to the main crops of tropical Africa, and bringing together key experts from the EU and Africa.
MYCO-GLOBE concluded with a conference on 27- 30 September 2006, in Bari (Italy), on 'Advances in genomics, biodiversity and rapid systems for detection of toxigenic fungi and mycotoxins'. The agenda covered the main toxigenic species including Fusarium, Aspergillus and Penicillium, and presented emerging technologies for the rapid detection of toxigenic fungi and their toxins in plants and food products. The conference was allied to a workshop/training course on these detection techniques with free attendance for 10 delegates from developing countries. The EU held two further bilateral workshops, with Australia on food safety and with the USA on genomics of fungal species. Some European researchers attended as a learning experience.
The USA bilateral workshop was held on 5-7 July 2005 in New Orleans (LA) and the Australian event on 15- 17 February 2006 in Sydney. The steering committee determined the content of these meetings and arranged for the production of a book at the end of the MYCO-GLOBE action to make its findings widely available. The outcomes of the research help to reduce both the crop losses and health hazards of fungi in food.
List of Partners
- Institute of Sciences of Food Production CNR (Italy)
- Cranfield University (UK)
- Royal Botanic Garden and Domain Trust (Australia)
- The National University of Rio Cuarto (Argentina)
- International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (Nigeria)
- United States Department of Agriculture (USA)
- Kansas State University (USA)
- International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (India)
- Full title:
- Integration of mycotoxin
- Contract n°:
- Project co-ordinator:
- Angelo Visconti,
Institute of Sciences of Food Production
- EC Scientific Officer:
- Isabelle de Froidmont-Görtz,
- EU contribution:
- € 300,000
- Specific Support Action