Members of the National Corn Growers Association's Mycotoxin Task Force met with other commodity groups and USDA officials Feb. 27 to discuss funding of aflatoxin elimination projects for fiscal year 2006.

Scott Averhoff, president of the Corn Producers Association of Texas and chairman of NCGA's Mycotoxin Task Force, said nine aflatoxin research projects related to corn will receive $202,000 for the upcoming year. Some of the projects being studied focus on conventional breeding, use of atoxigenic strains and genetic use to block aflatoxin formation.

Averhoff; Dewey Lee, executive director of the Georgia Corn Growers Association; and NCGA Director of Biotechnology Paul Bertels represented NCGA at the Albany, Calif., meeting of the Multi-Crop Aflatoxin Technical Working Group -- which consists of corn, cotton, peanut and tree nut growers. The group, established in 1988 to help USDA pursue aflatoxin elimination, determines what projects receive funding from the $746,000 allotted by Congress this year for mycotoxin research.

"The big thing to come out of this meeting is that we agreed to lobby Congress to increase the amount of funding for aflatoxin research by $500,000," said Averhoff. "We want to be able to fully fund viable research projects in the future. We need to have Congress supply more money for this problem."

Aflatoxin is a naturally occurring mycotoxin (toxin produced by various fungi), which is produced by two types of mold: Aspergillus flavus and Aspergillus parasiticus. Aspergillus flavus has especially been prevalent for growers in recent years because of drought and other stressful conditions that can promote the mold in certain grains.

"Funding these projects is essential to eliminating the aflatoxin problem," said Bertels. "We're hopeful Congress hears our call for increased funding."

Averhoff said funding for aflatoxin research has dropped the past several years.

NCGA and the Corn Producers Association of Texas will host the Multi-Crop Aflatoxin Elimination Workshop in Fort Worth, Texas, Oct. 16-18. There will be sessions focusing on the financial impacts of aflatoxin on the markets.

SOURCE: NCGA news release.