Mycotoxin Reduction in Bt Corn: Potential Economic, Health, and Regulatory Impacts

Environmental, Occupational Health, Graduate School of Public Health, University of Pittsburgh, 130 DeSoto St., Pittsburgh, PA 15261, USA.
Transgenic Research (Impact Factor: 2.32). 07/2006; 15(3):277-89. DOI: 10.1007/s11248-005-5237-1
Source: PubMed


Genetically modified (GM) Bt corn, through the pest protection that it confers, has lower levels of mycotoxins: toxic and carcinogenic chemicals produced as secondary metabolites of fungi that colonize crops. In some cases, the reduction of mycotoxins afforded by Bt corn is significant enough to have an economic impact, both in terms of domestic markets and international trade. In less developed countries where certain mycotoxins are significant contaminants of food, Bt corn adoption, by virtue of its mycotoxin reduction, may even improve human and animal health. This paper describes an integrated assessment model that analyzes the economic and health impacts of two mycotoxins in corn: fumonisin and aflatoxin. It was found that excessively strict standards of these two mycotoxins could result in global trade losses in the hundreds of millions US dollars annually, with the US, China, and Argentina suffering the greatest losses. The paper then discusses the evidence for Bt corn's lower levels of contamination of fumonisin and aflatoxin, and estimates economic impacts in the United States. A total benefit of Bt corn's reduction of fumonisin and aflatoxin in the US was estimated at 23 million dollars annually. Finally, the paper examines the potential policy impacts of Bt corn's mycotoxin reduction, on nations that are making a decision on whether to allow commercialization of this genetically modified crop.

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    • "These fungal toxins pose serious health problems to humans and animals including instant death in acute cases, and cancers; and studies also suggest that they cause immunosuppression , retard growth, and reproductive disorders with chronic exposures (Probst, Njapau, & Cotty, 2007; Varga, Frisvad, & Samson, 2009). In addition to health impacts, significant economic losses result from lowered animal production, decreased market values, regularity losses and secondary effects on agricultural production and agricultural communities (Wu, 2006, 2007). Due to these impacts, a worldwide concerted effort has been applied to control and regulate the occurrence of these toxins in food and animal feed. "
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    ABSTRACT: Minimizing fungal infection is essential to the control of mycotoxin contamination of foods and feeds but many potential control methods are not without their own safety concerns for the consumers. Photo-dynamic inactivation is a novel light-based approach which offers a promising alternative to conventional methods for the control of mycotoxigenic fungi. This study describes the use of curcumin to inactivate spores of Aspergillus flavus, one of the major aflatoxin producing fungi in foods and feeds. Curcumin is a natural polyphenolic compound from the spice turmeric (Curcuma longa). In this study the plant has shown to be an effective photosensitiser when combined with visible light (420 nm). The experiment was conducted in in vitro and in vivo where A. flavus spores were treated with different photosensitiser concentration and light dose both in buffer solution and on maize kernels. Comparison of fungal load from treated and untreated samples was determined, and reductions of fungal spore counts of up to 3 log CFU ml�1 in suspension and 2 log CFU g�1 in maize kernels were obtained using optimal dye concentrations and light dose combinations. The results in this study indicate that curcumin-mediated photosensitization is a potentially effective method to decontaminate A. flavus spores in foods and feeds.
    Food Control 06/2015; 59(2016):708-713. DOI:10.1016/j.foodcont.2015.06.045 · 2.81 Impact Factor
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    • "In particular, potential health benefits resulting from aflatoxin reduction in Bt maize could introduce a new dimension to the debate on genetically modified crops (Wu 2006; Pazzi et al. 2006; Abbas et al. 2013). A review on the relationship between Bt maize and concentrations of aflatoxins in harvest was published by "
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    ABSTRACT: Transgenic Bt maize is a potentially important tool against insect pest in the EU and other countries. Bt maize (e.g. MON 810, Bt 11) which carries the Bt gene is highly resistant to larval feeding of European corn borer, stalk borer, and Southwestern corn borer, depending on Bt toxin (δ toxin) production. Effective measures used to fight pests may often have positive side-effects in that they may also contribute to reducing mycotoxin concentrations. A systematic review has been used for the purposes of evaluating the studies on the reduction of aflatoxins in Bt maize. According to five studies, Bt maize has significantly lower concentrations of aflatoxins than non- Bt maize hybrids, only one study has shown no significant effect of Bt maize. Other studies have shown mixed results (four studies). The results of these studies were influenced by the year of sampling or by using maize breeding lines selected for resistance to aflatoxin accumulation.
    Acta Veterinaria Brno 03/2015; 84(1):47-53. DOI:10.2754/avb201585010047 · 0.47 Impact Factor
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    • "Vardon et al. (2003) calculated the total costs of aflatoxin in the USA to be nearly $500 million annually, due to losses to maize, peanut, and other crop growers as well as through animal health effects (a small fraction of the cost). Wu (2006) made a more conservative estimate at an annual loss of $163 million on average to US maize growers from aflatoxin. The difference in results may have partially resulted from focusing on maize alone rather than all crops, and the assumption that a maize lot that is rejected for human food can be sold for animal feed or other purposes. "
    F. Wu ·
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    ABSTRACT: Maize is one of the most important agricultural commodities worldwide in terms of amounts produced, consumed, and traded. Hence, naturally occurring aflatoxin contamination in maize has important ramifications for both global trade and health. Aflatoxin is produced by certain species of the genus Aspergillus in a variety of food crops, including maize, peanuts, and tree nuts. Over 100 nations have aflatoxin regulations, which are intended to protect human and animal health, but also incur economic losses to nations that attempt to export maize and other aflatoxin-contaminated commodities. These economic effects must be balanced against the health protection afforded by the regulations. It is important to acknowledge that, even in nations that have aflatoxin regulations, many individuals consume maize that has undergone no regulatory inspection, especially in nations where subsistence farming is widespread. Hence, aflatoxin contamination, exposure, and lack of regulation can also contribute to adverse effects on trade and health worldwide. This review, part of a special issue on aflatoxin in maize, describes economic and health effects of aflatoxin in maize on a global level. It ends with a story of an intervention that reduced maize consumption in one population in China, which is likely the main determinant of the reduction in liver cancer mortality in that population over the last 30 years, from reduced aflatoxin exposure.
    World Mycotoxin Journal 01/2015; 8(2):137-142. DOI:10.3920/WMJ2014.1737 · 2.16 Impact Factor
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