How Harmful Are Microtoxins In Plants To Human And Animal Health?
Most Africans, especially Nigerians, belong to the lower rung of the society. These often buy there agricultural foods in market that are not well standardized thereby leading to the fear of contracting harmful toxins from crops.
Mycotoxins are chemicals produced by fungi that are harmful to humans and domestic animals. These chemicals may contaminate staple foods and feeds worldwide, posing a number of significant food safety concerns. Mycotoxins may be fatal or cause severe illness at very small concentrations, often measured in parts per million (ppm) or parts per billion (ppb). There may be thousands of mycotoxins on the planet earth, but only a small fraction of these toxic chemicals have the potential to cause plant and animal diseases. In nature, mycotoxins may act to disable host defense responses or to defend the fungus against other microorganisms.
The study of mycotoxins, known as mycotoxicology, began in 1960 on a farm in England. Over 100,000 young turkeys died from ‘Turkey-X disease’ after eating a peanut meal that was contaminated with aflatoxins—a then new group of mycotoxins produced by the fungus Aspergillus flavus. In the years since this massive fatality, other important mycotoxins including ergot alkaloids, fumonisins, ochratoxins, trichothecenes, and zearalenone have been discovered and described, many the result of other devastating intoxications.
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