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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: AFLATOXIN CONTROL THROUGH TARGETING MECHANISMS GOVERNING AFLATOXIN BIOSYNTHESIS IN CORN AND COTTONSEED Title: Cost-Effectiveness of Aflatoxin Control Methods: Economic Incentives

Authors
item Wu, Felicia - UNIV OF PITTSBURGH
item Liu, Yan - UNIV OF PITTSBURGH
item Bhatnagar, Deepak

Submitted to: Journal of Toxicology Toxins Reviews
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: November 18, 2008
Publication Date: December 19, 2008
Citation: Wu, F., Liu, Y., Bhatnagar, D. 2008. Cost-Effectiveness of Aflatoxin Control Methods: Economic Incentives. Toxins Reviews. 27:203-225.

Interpretive Summary: Aflatoxin contamination of crops (corn, cotton, peanuts, treenuts) by the fungus Aspergillus flavus has significant economic impact on multiple sectors in U.S. crop industries – growers, elevators, handlers/shellers, processors, distributors, and consumers. Aflatoxin control methods at both preharvest and postharvest levels have been developed by researchers in the USA. Now it is important for the affected sectors to adopt these methods. There are three important factors governing the acceptance of the controls strategies: providing economic incentives, proving or improving cost-effectiveness of the control methods, and education and outreach to growers and other relevant industry sectors. The problem is that there is often a mismatch in economic incentives, in that different sectors bear the brunt of aflatoxin costs at disproportionate ratios for different crops. In corn and cottonseed, growers bear most of the cost; whereas in peanuts and tree nuts, shellers and handlers bear most of the cost. Hence, peanut and tree nut growers may have no economic incentive to apply preharvest aflatoxin control. In this study we have applied economic theories to three case studies to determine the cost-effectiveness of control strategies (use of biological control agents AF36 in cottonseed and Afla-Guard in peanuts, and Bt corn) to reduce aflatoxin contamination in different crops.

Technical Abstract: Multiple sectors in U.S. crop industries – growers, elevators, handlers/shellers, processors, distributors, and consumers – are affected by aflatoxin contamination of commodities, and have the potential to control it. Aflatoxin control methods at both preharvest and postharvest levels have been developed. Now it is important for sectors to adopt these methods. What would increase adoption of methods to control aflatoxin? There are three important factors: providing economic incentives, proving or improving cost-effectiveness of the control methods, and education and outreach to growers and other relevant industry sectors. The problem is that there is often a mismatch in economic incentives, in that different sectors bear the brunt of aflatoxin costs at disproportionate ratios for different crops. In corn and cottonseed, growers bear most of the cost; whereas in peanuts and tree nuts, shellers and handlers bear most of the cost. Hence, peanut and tree nut growers may have no economic incentive to apply preharvest aflatoxin control. Postharvest control options are limited and in many cases are not yet approved by EPA or FDA. The Kaldor-Hicks efficiency criterion may help to resolve this economic dilemma. Applied to aflatoxin control, growers could be compensated by shellers/handlers to adopt preharvest aflatoxin control methods. However, the control methods must be cost-effective for this compensatory arrangement to work. We present three case studies of cost-effectiveness to reduce aflatoxin contamination in different crops: AF36 in cottonseed, Bt corn, and Afla-Guard in peanuts.

Last Modified: 12/22/2014
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