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EFSA launches project to predict the effect of climate change on aflatoxin B1 in cereals

The European Food Safety Authority has launched a call for proposals to study the potential increase in aflatoxin B1 in cereals in the EU as a result of climate change. Aflatoxin B1 is a mycotoxin produced by moulds which grow on certain cereals including maize, wheat and rice. It is particularly prevalent in hot and humid climates and is carcinogenic.

Based on different climate change scenarios, the aim of the project is to gather and analyse data on aflatoxin B1 in order to build predictive models, define scenarios and create maps highlighting potential future contamination of cereal crops. The results will help to inform any future work in this area by EFSA and give an indication of potential emerging food contamination by mycotoxins in the EU due to climate change.

The project is being coordinated by EFSA’s Emerging Risks Unit, which has identified this issue as a potential area of concern. Scientific organisations designated by the EU member states have until 7 September 2009 to submit proposals. The selected applicant(s) will receive a grant of up to €250,000 from EFSA.

Notes to editors

Under Article 36 of its Founding Regulation, EFSA regularly provides grants to competent organisations, designated by the EU member states, to provide assistance in areas such as data collection and other preparatory work for the development of its opinions. Since the launch of the scheme in 2007, some 28 such grants have so far been agreed or are currently in negotiation, worth a total of around €3.8 million.

EFSA’s Scientific Panel on Contaminants in the Food Chain (CONTAM) has adopted two separate opinions on aflatoxins in nuts, firstly in  January 2007 and a  statement on the level of aflatoxins in tree nuts other than almonds, hazelnuts and pistachios in June 2009.

The CONTAM Panel also adopted an opinion related to aflatoxin B1 as an undesirable substance in animal feed in 2004 .

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