April 11, 2016
BIOMIN has joined MyToolBox, a four-year, €5 million (US$5.7 million) effort to create a cloud-based platform that provides real-time, customised advice about mycotoxins to farmers and other decision makers in the food and feed chains.
Mycotoxins, fungal metabolites that afflict cereals and other crops, cost the European agriculture industry about €3 billion each year and pose harm to human and animal health through the feed and food chain.
"The MyToolBox project has the potential to save tens of millions of euros annually in reduced crop losses and achieve real reductions in dietary exposure to mycotoxins, which is immeasurable in terms of benefits to human health," according to project coordinator, Professor Rudolf Krska of the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences (BOKU) in Vienna.
The European Union's Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation programme has recently awarded funding to the MyToolBox Project. The multidisciplinary team of scientists, engineers and IT specialists represent 23 governmental, academic and industry organisations from 11 countries.
Dr. Gerd Schatzmayr, research director at the BIOMIN Research Center located in Tulln, Austria, said, "The commitment of BIOMIN to the MyToolBox project is a testament to cutting-edge scientific research in the service of the agricultural industry and society at large. Beyond the extensive R&D activities of BIOMIN, it highlights both the economic and societal benefits, reflecting our deeply-held corporate social responsibility values."
The MyToolBox project will not only pursue a field-to-fork approach along the food and feed chain, but will also consider safe use options of mycotoxin contaminated batches such as microbial energy conversion to efficiently produce biofuels.
BIOMIN will conduct lab and pilot scale testing of preventive measures to diminish the occurrence of mycotoxins in the production of biofuels and fermentation by-products such as distiller's dried grains with solubles (DDGS), often used in livestock feed. "The bioethanol industry may see a revenue boost and livestock producers could see animal health and performance improvements due to higher quality DDGS thanks to lower mycotoxin contamination," noted Dr. Gerd Schatzmayr.
A number of major agricultural markets currently have no framework in place to provide guidelines for mycotoxin deactivation products such as feed additives. BIOMIN said it will deploy its extensive know-how in mycotoxin biomarker analysis -- aflatoxins and fumonisins in particular -- to inform feeding trials to be conducted in China as part of a broader interest in the development of such regulations.
"MyToolBox is a leading scientific endeavour linking European experts with their Chinese counterparts and reaching out to the rest of the world," commented Prof. Samuel Godefroy from University Laval, Québec, Canada, one of the project's international expert advisory board members, former vice chair of the FAO/WHO Codex Alimentarius Commission and current senior food regulatory advisor to China's National Centre of Food Safety Risk Assessment (CFSA). "The applied nature of the project and its outreach will no doubt lead to not only enhancing food safety and consumer protection in the EU and in China, but will also foster trade of safe food and agrifood commodities worldwide," he added.