Climate change increases deoxynivalenol contamination of wheat in north-western Europe

H J van der Fels-Klerx, J E Olesen, M S Madsen, P W Goedhart
Food Additives & Contaminants. Part A, Chemistry, Analysis, Control, Exposure & Risk Assessment 2012, 29 (10): 1593-604
Climate change will affect the development of cereal crops and the occurrence of mycotoxins in these crops, but so far little research has been done on quantifying the expected effects. The aim of this study was to assess climate change impacts on the occurrence of deoxynivalenol in wheat grown in north-western Europe by 2040, considering the combined effects of shifts in wheat phenology and climate. The study used climate model data for the future period of 2031-2050 relative to the baseline period of 1975-1994. A weather generator was used for generating synthetic series of daily weather data for both the baseline and the future periods. Available models for wheat phenology and prediction of deoxynivalenol concentrations in north-western Europe were used. Both models were run for winter wheat and spring wheat, separately. The results showed that both flowering and full maturation of wheat will be earlier in the season because of climate change effects, about 1 to 2 weeks. Deoxynivalenol contamination was found to increase in most of the study region, with an increase of the original concentrations by up to 3 times. The study results may inform governmental and industrial risk managers to underpin decision-making and planning processes in north-western Europe. On the local level, deoxynivalenol contamination should be closely monitored to pick out wheat batches with excess levels at the right time. Using predictive models on a more local scale could be helpful to assist other monitoring measures to safeguard food safety in the wheat supply chain.

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