Mycotoxins are toxic compounds produced by fungi that occur naturally in grains. When consumed at elevated levels, mycotoxins may cause sickness in humans and animals. While several mycotoxins have been found in corn grain, aflatoxins and deoxynivalenol (DON) or vomitoxin are considered to be two of the important mycotoxins.
The U.S. grain merchandising industry implements strict safeguards for handling and marketing grain with elevated levels of mycotoxins. All stakeholders in the corn value chain – seed companies, corn growers, grain marketers and grain handlers, as well as U.S. corn export customers – are interested in understanding how mycotoxin contamination is influenced by growing conditions and the subsequent storage, drying, handling and transport of the grain as it moves through the U.S. corn export system.
As in the previous Export Cargo Reports, the 2017/2018 export samples were tested for aflatoxins and DON for this year’s report. The accumulation of seven years of the Export Cargo Reports allows for the evaluation of year-to-year patterns of mycotoxin presence in corn at export points. While a comparison of the mycotoxin presence is described below for the past three marketing years for aflatoxin and DON, a year-to-year comparison for seven years for both mycotoxins is available on request.