- The Plate
Aflatoxin, a Silent Threat to Africa’s Food Supply
Food supply issues aren’t uncommon in Africa. Famines caused by drought, flood, or conflict are frequent. But there is another constant threat to the continent’s food security that receives little public attention: Foodborne toxins known as aflatoxins.
Produced by fungus in the same way that penicillin is, aflatoxins can cause disease and are blamed for liver cancer. That’s pretty alarming since they largely affect food staples like corn and groundnuts. But there are scientists working on solutions.
The toxins are naturally occurring and exist at high levels in much of Africa’s food supply. Some scientists estimate that up to one-third of Africa’s food supply is infected with aflatoxins at levels higher than the United States deems safe. The Partnership for Aflatoxin Control in Africa