Fear gripped some senators yesterday when researchers raised alarm on the spread of Mycotoxins, poisons produced by moulds growing on agricultural and food commodities in the country.
Members of the Senate committee on Agriculture and Rural Development were told by researchers during an awareness workshop on mycotoxins at the Senate that markets and farmlands in the country were breeding ground poisons.
According to the researchers, mycotoxins have been shown to be the number one threat amongst food and feed contaminants with regards to long term poisoning and thus, constitute challenge to agriculture, food and nutrition security worldwide.
Delivering a paper, Dr Anthony Nagedu of the Raw Materials Research and Development Council (RMRDC) said recent study revealed that Aflatoxin contamination in maize and groundnut alone in Nigeria has been reported to be the cause of 7, 761 liver cancer cases per year (76.6% out of the estimated 10, 130 total liver cancer cases per year).
"This led to a monetized burden of N112 billion (equivalent to 0.5% of Nigeria GDP) in 2010. Therefore, food quality and safety issues resulting from mycotoxin contamination present a serious obstacle to improving nutrition and livelihoods, enhancing agricultural productivity and linking smallholder farmers to markets," he said.
Urging the National Assembly to enact law on this, he said there was a limited awareness on it and advocated for the conduct of a nationwide assessment of the toxic.
Expressing fear, Senator Adamu Aliero (APC, Kebbi) said the awareness on the toxic must be carried out across the country including at local government levels.
Committee chairman, Senator Abdullahi Adamu (APC, Nasarawa) called for convocation of summit involving all stakeholders in the country's agricultural sector to tackle the menace.
Also, the Chinese Ambassador, Zhou Pingjiam said his country would assist Nigeria in addressing the challenge for food security.