Risk profiles for aflatoxin in Ukrainian maize changed from medium to low

Ukraine, one of the world’s largest grain exporters, faces mycotoxin-related challenges in an expanding export market. This article explains how grain stakeholders in Ukraine conduct mycotoxin risk management, which analysis methods they use, and why they choose them.     The impact of mycotoxins on human health and on the economy Mycotoxins are toxic compounds naturally produced by certain types of molds. Mycotoxins are a significant food safety concern in agriculture; 25% of the global food crops contain mycotoxins above Codex and EU limits (Eskola et al. 2019) and, just in the USA, the cost of mycotoxin management was estimated one billion dollars per year or more (Robens and Kardwell 2003). Contamination on this scale has serious consequences. Today about 400 mycotoxins are known (Berthiller et al. 2007) and they accounted for about 30% of food rejections at European Economic Area (EEA) borders between 2010 and 2019 (see article on page 12). When mycotoxins enter the food supply, they can spread quickly at every point along the chain, affecting everyone from farmers and grain mills to consumers. Contaminated food and feed products represent a major threat to humans and animal health. The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that over 4.5 billion people in the world are exposed to unmonitored levels of aflatoxins, leading to about 155 000 liver cancer cases annually (Marchese et al. 2018). Aflatoxin B1 has been classified by the IARC (International Agency for Research on Cancer) as a Class 1 human carcinogen.   Ukrainian grain production and exports are growing For the 2018-2019 marketing year, Ukraine exported a record- breaking 50.4 million tons of cereals, legumes, and flour, 10.5 million tons more than the previous marketing year (The Ministry of Economic Development, Trade and Agriculture of Ukraine 2019). The US, the world’s largest corn producer, harvested 366.3 million tons of corn in the 2018-2019 marketing year, representing nearly 33% of the world’s production. The second-largest corn producer in the world is China, which harvested 257.3 million tons of corn in the 2018-2019 marketing year. Brazil rounds out the top three with 101 million tons. The next place in terms of production is occupied by the EU (64.2 million tons), which is 13 million tons ahead of Argentina. Ukraine earned the sixth position (35.8 million tons) (FAO 2019). Figure 1 breaks down grain production among the top ten producers in the world. Worldwide corn exports for the 2018-2019 marketing year amounted to USD 33.9 billion. The United States earned the largest amount from corn exports at USD 12.9 billion, accounting for 38.1% of the worldwide corn export market. Argentina earned the second largest amount from corn exports at USD 4.2 billion with Brazil following closely at USD 4.1 billion (12.1%). Ukraine ranks fourth with USD 3.5 billion (10.3%) in corn exports. In the current marketing year (2019-2020), Ukraine earned USD 9.6 billion for grain exports and became the second-leading earner from grain exports (UNIAN 2020) after exporting 56.2 million tons. Exports for the 2019-2020 season were 6.63 million tons (13.4%) higher than for the same period the previous marketing year (49.6 million tons) (Proagro Group 2020). According to the Ukrainian Grain Association (UGA), the growth of grain exports between 2018 and 2022 is projected to be ne

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