Effects of Climate Change on Areas Suitable for Maize Cultivation and Aflatoxin Contamination in Europe

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Abstract

The climate is changing in Europe: average temperatures are increasing, and so is the frequency of extreme weather events. Climate change has a severe impact on areas suitable for growing certain crops and on food safety, for example, affecting the occurrence of the aflatoxin contamination of maize. The aim of this study was to obtain insights into the impact of climate change on possible changes in land use in Europe, particularly in areas suitable for maize cultivation, and on the probability of the mycotoxin contamination of maize in order to give directions for long-term adaptation to climate change. By combining a land use model and a mycotoxin prediction model, the suitability of land for maize cultivation and the probability of aflatoxin contamination were estimated for suitable areas in Europe, comparing the current climate with the 2050 scenario. In 2050, the occurrence of aflatoxin contamination in Europe is predicted to severely increase, especially in Central and Southern Europe. More northern regions, presently unsuitable for maize cultivation, will become suitable for maize cultivation in 2050. In the baseline scenario, most regions suitable for maize cultivation have a low probability of aflatoxin contamination, whereas in 2050, about half of the regions suitable for maize cultivation have a medium to high probability of aflatoxin contamination. Regions for safely growing maize for human consumption will shift from the southern to the northern half of Europe.
Original languageEnglish
Article number599
JournalToxins
Volume15
Issue number10
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 4 Oct 2023

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