Researchers at the University of South Carolina (USC) are developing a novel approach to predict the presence of aflatoxin in US crop fields before harvest. Aflatoxins, carcinogenic toxins produced by fungi in the Aspergillus (mold) family, occur in the soil and in decaying vegetation. These toxins can easily contaminate crops such as corn, peanuts, and tree nuts. Aflatoxins can cause cancer and child stunting, with more than 5 billion people at risk. The costs of managing aflatoxin ranges from $1-2.5 billion annually. Aflatoxin production relies heavily on several environmental factors, such as temperature, water activity, and humidity. USC’s Toximap is a computational tool for predicting incidence of aflatoxin in the United States and is critical to reducing and preventing contamination.
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