International effort to reduce fungal infections in crops

Scientists leverage smart technology to support farmers and improve food safety: globally every year there are several billion Euro losses to cereals and other crops through fungal infection, which also causes harm to human health from toxis (mycotoxins) produced by these moulds.

In a new initiative that is being funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Programme, a group of scientists, engineers and IT specialists have teamed up to provide knowledge transfer to farmers and other decision makers in the food and feed chains.

Using smart technology available on phones and tablets, decision-making tools will be made available to the agricultural and food communities to guide them in taking the most cost-effective actions to minimise fungal infection and mycotoxin formation.

Advice will be given in real-time and customised to the individual situation taking into account numerous factors including climatic conditions as a means of forecasting potential fungal infection.

The ICC will be responsible for the dissemination of information on the project and its results to a wide audience.

The coordinator of the project, Professor Rudolf Krska from the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences (BOKU) in Vienna, who launched the project on 8 March 2016 said “This exciting MyToolBox Project has the potential to save tens of millions of Euros per annum in reduced crop losses, as well as achieve reductions in dietary exposure to mycotoxins, which is immeasurable in terms of benefits to human health”.

Of the 23 partners from 11 countries including China, there is a strong industry presence reflecting the practical significance of this project. Dr Michelle Suman, a world leading manufacturer of pasta in Parma (Italy) and a member of the MyToolBox team said “This project could make a real difference to the cereal  processing industry with the potential to reduce losses of wheat and maize during milling and produced safer products with lower levels of mycotoxins reducing human exposure.”

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