Feedinfo News Service recently interviewed BIOMIN’s Mycotoxin Risk Management Product Manager, Ines Taschl and spoke to her about the evolving mycotoxin challenges posed by climate change and weather events.

You cannot combat a threat you have not detected. This is why exercises such as Biomin’s annual mycotoxin survey have such importance for the industry. 2018 marks the 14th year of Biomin’s survey, which helps producers monitor the threats from aflatoxins, zearalenone, deoxynivalenol, T-2, fumonisins, and ochratoxin A within their feed markets. This year’s data draws from 18,757 samples of finished feed and feed raw materials from 72 countries, and reminded us of the pervasive extent of the mycotoxin challenge, with 62% of the samples demonstrating a level of mycotoxin concentration which risked affecting the performance of the animal.

To help break down this formidable data collection into its essentials, Feedinfo News Service spoke to Ines Taschl, Biomin Mycotoxin Risk Management Product Manager.

[Feedinfo News Service] This is now the 14th year that Biomin has conducted its World Mycotoxin Survey. Are there any trends that start to build up after you have this level of data that aren’t apparent with just a single year’s data?

[Ines Taschl] By having a look on the past years, we definitely observe trends that would not be visible by having a look on just one single year. There are strong fluctuations over the time, mainly caused by the influence of weather and climate during growing, flowering and harvesting periods. We know that climate change will decrease yields and increase mycotoxin contamination, as this environmental stress has been shown to have significant consequences for secondary metabolite production, especially mycotoxins. Extreme drought episodes, desertification and fluctuations between wet and dry cycles are having an impact on the life cycles of mycotoxin-producing fungi. This is exactly what we observe over the past 14 years.

[Feedinfo News Service] One of the main takeaways from this year’s mycotoxin survey was the spread of fumonisins, which Biomin claims have shown up at higher levels in every geographical region. What are the implications of this, and how can producers protect their animals against the negative effects of this growing threat?

[Ines Taschl] The term rise is referring to two things. The first is the increase in average prevalence and concentration levels in the global data set in recent years. The second is the predicted increase in levels of fumonisins that we expect from climate change, namely: a gradual warming of the climate in most areas, an increase in ‘unseasonal’ rainfall around corn silking (flowering) and hotter conditions leading up to harvest. Because fumonisins levels are so strongly affected by such climate trends and weather conditions, we expect to see a general increase over time though with large fluctuations possible.

In terms of implications for the animal protein sector, the risks are multiple. Fumonisins are unique among the mycotoxins for their mode of action. The molecules of fumonisins have a high similarity to the sphingoid bases (sphinganine and sphingosine), and they therefore interfere with the action of an enzyme necessary for sphingolipid production. Sphingolipids play key roles in a variety of cell functions around the body. Fumonisins are particularly toxic to pigs (that can suffer from the related pulmonary edema) and horses (susceptible to leukoencephalomalacia in the brain), but they are also more widely able to disrupt intestinal wall integrity and affect the immune system of birds and other animals as well. Their effects can lead to oxidative damage in the kidneys and other organs. Fumonisins are also carcinogenic. The bottom line is that fumonisins contribute to impaired health status and lower performance.

A mycotoxin binder will not sufficiently protect animals against fumonisins, as their structure makes them less able to be adsorbed. Through considerable research and development, BIOMIN has pioneered enzymatic biotransformation of mycotoxins, a strategy that is both specific in targeting a certain type mycotoxin and irreversible.

We are the first and only company to commercialize this kind of technology, beginning in 2013 with FUMzyme® — a component of Mycofix® with EU authorization for its ability to safely and effectively manage fumonisin levels in feed. It’s also important to be aware of trichothecenes that, through synergism, can exacerbate the effect of fumonisins.

We consistently see from the BIOMIN Mycotoxin Survey results and discussions with clients that mycotoxin challenges are often comprised of several different mycotoxins, and these require different strategies in order to be effectively mitigated. The Mycofix® product range encapsulates three strategies: adsorption, biotransformation and bioprotection –the latter which supports intestinal and immune cells— which is why it provides customers with the most protection against the greatest number of mycotoxins of any commercial feed

[Feedinfo News Service] Biomin has argued in the past that fumonisin is especially problematic in combination with other mycotoxins (deoxynivalenol, or DON). Are synergistic combinations of mycotoxins something you think the industry should be especially alert to this year?

[Ines Taschl] It is definitely standard to find more than one mycotoxin present in one feed sample. If there are different mycotoxins present at one time, this is leading to synergistic effects, which means that the effects caused by the combination of mycotoxins are much more severe than that of single mycotoxins that occur alone. Having a look at our Spectrum 380® results, a state-of-the-art detection technology able to measure over 380 mycotoxins and secondary metabolites, we can see that the co-contamination where multiple mycotoxins are present is very common. The Spectrum 380® method goes much more into detail than routine analyses, which helps to get a complete picture of the toxic contamination of a single sample. By having a look on the results of the 2017 analyses we see that 97% of all tested samples were contaminated with more than 10 different toxins and metabolites. So, multiple mycotoxin occurrence and synergism definitely pose a threat to the animals this year.

One example is the deoxynivalenol and fumonisins combination. These two toxins can work together in a way that impairs gut barrier function, making animals more susceptible to pathogens, for example. Research has demonstrated that DON + FUM worsen the severity of coccidiosis in poultry, even at low (below regulatory maximum) concentration levels.

[Feedinfo News Service] This year’s data saw unusually high levels of mycotoxins in South American soy, possibly because of the unusually wet harvest season. Given that South American soy exports feed animals around the world, do you think there is a risk of farmers around the world facing mycotoxin pressure that they are unused to? What should they be on the lookout for in their animals? What kind of solutions would be efficacious against this particular mycotoxin threat?

[Ines Taschl] Soybean was once considered as a low mycotoxin risk crop, so there may not be much awareness of the threat. However, the data show that mycotoxin contamination of soybeans has risen in the last years, making it important for feed millers, farmers and importers to monitor this crop more closely, regardless of geography.

In the field, affected crops may benefit from being harvested earlier but with a trade off against yield. Post-harvest, the first step in risk mitigation is to be aware of the potential presence of mycotoxins, which can be higher in some years than others, and to monitor feed ingredients for contamination. Some animal species and life stages (e.g. young pigs) are particularly susceptible to mycotoxins, and the risk may be increased in cases of co-occurrence with other mycotoxins.

With Mycofix® a unique combination of patented specific enzymes and biological components are proven to convert mycotoxins into non-toxic, environmentally-safe metabolites. For the biotransformation of fumonisins, there is the first-ever purified enzyme FUMzyme®, authorized by the EU to degrade fumonisins specifically and irreversibly into non-toxic metabolites. With BBSH® BIOMIN offers the EU authorized microorganism that biotransforms trichothecenes into harmless metabolites. Furthermore, Mycofix® contains components for the deactivation of ochratoxins and zearalenone as well as the EU authorized bentonite that selectively binds adsorbable mycotoxins such as aflatoxins and ergot alkaloids. On top of this, Mycofix® provides bioprotection, that ensures the hepato- and immune-protection that counters the negative effects caused by mycotoxins, through a scientifically proven blend of carefully selected plant and algae extracts.

[Feedinfo News Service] How does the survey inform Biomin’s commercial efforts? For example, will you be reinforcing your presence in markets such as North America and East Asia, places whose mycotoxin risk was judged “extreme?”

[Ines Taschl] Due to this high contamination levels of course we are expecting a higher demand for our quality products in these regions. BIOMIN is well staffed across all regions globally, with the ability to serve customers in over 100 countries and a global production network with sufficient capacity to meet growing demand. With the opening of our new production facility in Wuxi, China in October 2017, we doubled our capacity to produce Mycofix®. The mycotoxin survey program itself is a part of our long-term commitment to serving clients, rather than a driver of commercial efforts, by helping them to accurately identify and then address the challenges they face in their operations.

[Feedinfo News Service] Are there any other takeaways from the 2017 results that you think are important to highlight?

[Ines Taschl] There are specific threats to consider in each region, and these are detailed in the report. By having a look at Europe, for example, a sharp increase in the prevalence of T-2 toxin in cereals and the level of DON and FUM in corn was detected.

At a global level, it’s certainly worth bearing in mind that 62% of the more than 18000 samples tested had at least one mycotoxin observed at a level that we know that could affect the animals’ health or performance. The audience poll during the webinar revealed that more than 60% of participants had encountered a mycotoxin issue in the past 12 months, and another 17% suspect that they may have had one. Given the widespread nature of mycotoxin contamination, it’s important to have a risk management program in place. That means testing feed ingredients regularly, and considering application of a proven mycotoxin deactivator.

BIOMIN will be represented at Feed Additives Asia 2018 by Justin Tan, Regional Sales & Marketing Director Asia Pacific, who will be speaking on Feed Hygiene and Preservation in Asia. If you want to hear from BIOMIN directly and put your questions to Justin, book your place today by clicking here.

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FEED ADDITIVES ASIA 2018