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New IARC report urges action against widespread mycotoxin contamination in developing countries
17 February 2016


The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has released a Working Group of report, summary and press release in the past week. The Expert Working Group comprised of world-leading experts was convened by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) with support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF - http://www.gatesfoundation.org/ ) to review the health effects of aflatoxins and fumonisins.

The report reiterates the affirmations of the IARC reports of 1993 and 2002 on the health impacts of aflatoxins as well as the JECFA report of 2011 on co-exposure to aflatoxins and fumonisins and their health effects. The experts have suggested that these mycotoxins are not only a cause of acute poisoning and cancer but are also a likely contributor to the high levels of stunting in children in affected populations.

The well-structured and comprehensive IARC report, titled "Mycotoxin Control in Low- and Middle-Income Countries", posted at http://www.iarc.fr/en/publications/pdfs-online/wrk/wrk9/IARC_publicationWGR9_full.pdf further sheds light on the following: (a) the high prevalence of co-exposure to multiple mycotoxins especially to aflatoxins and fumonisins, and the impacts on child health; (b) the role of aflatoxins in immune system modulation and child growth as matching the reports from studies on impaired fetal development and immune system, and gut function in relevant animal models; (c) categories of available interventions for mycotoxin reduction in affected commodities, of which increased dietary diversity ranks high though somewhat difficult to implement at individual/household, community, or national levels; and (d) the need for increased knowledge mobilization (awareness especially as related to women empowerment and gender issues) for effectively delivering interventions proven to reduce population exposure to aflatoxins and fumonisins.

The PACA secretariat congratulates the WHO IARC, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Expert Working Group for pulling this feat.

The WHO IARC Press Release is posted at http://www.iarc.fr/en/media-centre/pr/2015/pdfs/pr236_E.pdf

Source: February 17, 2016 WHO IARC PRESS RELEASE NO 242


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