Monday, 14 May 2012

El Niño Strongly Influences Aflatoxin Contamination

El Niño is a fairly predictable periodic deviation of seawater temperature and atmospheric pressure (higher than normal in both cases) in the southern hemisphere. Research has pointed to this phenomenon along with its complementary periodic cooling (termed La Niña) coinciding with extremes in weather causing flooding & drought in many parts of the world with disastrous consequences.

 Not surprisingly there has been a lot of attention paid to El Niño in the southern hemisphere as extremes in weather have a fundamentally negative impact on farming and fishing in (mainly developing) countries in that part of the world where the population is often highly reliant on those industries for food.

More recently researchers at Universities of Auburn, Georgia & Washington State in the US have found a further health problem associated with El Niño - that of aflatoxin contamination of food. Published in a poster
presented to the SouthEast Climate Consortium they have detected a distinct correlation with the higher temperatures and lower rainfall associated with El Niño and increased levels of aflatoxin contamination of crops in the southern states of North America.

This information could be a valuable addition to that given to farmers in effected area's, enabling them to plan ahead and put in place management procedures well in advance.

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