Feed the Future
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Monitoring and Managing Mycotoxins on Maize in Kenya

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Date Published: 
March 9, 2014

This presentation is part of the "Emerging Plant Diseases" series.

Aflatoxin and fumonisin are two of several mycotoxins (fungal metabolites) that cause enormous economic losses and/or health burdens worldwide. These toxins are produced by fungi that grow on maize, among other foodstuffs. The problem is most acute when plants are stressed by drought and insects in the field, and when the crop is stored under sub-optimal conditions. In Africa, mycotoxin levels are not regulated, resulting in a major health burden.

In this presentation, Dr. Rebecca Nelson of Cornell University discusses the challenges and opportunities for resolving an emerging mycotoxin-related public health crisis in Kenya. She presents some recent research results while providing an excellent overview of the factors that influence mycotoxin accumulation on maize; the extent of contamination in Kenya; and actions that can be taken to reduce mycotoxin exposure. 

Bio: Dr. Rebecca Nelson serves as Scientific Director for The McKnight Foundation`s Collaborative Crop Research Program (CCRP), a competitive grants program that funds agricultural research in developing countries. At Cornell, her affiliations are with the departments of Plant Pathology and Plant-Microbe Biology and Plant Breeding and Genetics, as well as with International Agriculture and Rural Development and the Institute for Genomic Diversity. Her research program is focused on understanding the ways in which plants defend themselves against pathogen attack.