Mycotoxins are byproducts of fungi from improperly stored grain and are capable of causing illness or death in humans and livestock. Claudia Calderón from the Department of Horticulture is working with 50 smallscale farmers in the western highlands of Guatemala and support research on the quality of maize and provide recommendations on food safety. The goal is to devise effective and sustainable mechanisms to education, monitor and reduce exposure to mycotoxin contamination.
Calderón traveled in December 2018 to Guatemala to screen the levels of aflatoxins and fumonisins in maize samples provided by farmers from the western highlands of the country. She also ran preliminary analyses on three additional mycotoxins which have not been studied in Guatemala: ochratoxin A, vomitoxin (DON), and zearalenone, finding mycotoxin levels that exceeded the regulatory limits proposed by the World Health Organization. She is currently working with medical doctors and veterinarians to coordinate joint actions to reduce mycotoxin exposure in human and farm animal populations.