Climate change is expected to aggravate feed and food safety problems of crops

Climate change is expected to aggravate feed and food safety problems of crops; however, quantitative estimates are scarce. This study aimed to estimate impacts of climate change effects on deoxynivalenol contamination of wheat and maize grown in the Netherlands by 2040. Quantitative modelling was applied, considering both direct effects of changing climate on toxin contamination and indirect effects via shifts in crop phenology. Climate change projections for the IPCC A1B emission scenario were used for the scenario period 2031-2050 relative to the baseline period of 1975-1994. Climatic data from two different global and regional climate model combinations were used. A weather generator was applied for downscaling climate data to local conditions. Crop phenology models and prediction models for DON contamination used, each for winter wheat and grain maize. Results showed that flowering and full maturity of both wheat and maize will advance with future climate. Flowering advanced on average 5 and 11 days for wheat, and 7 and 14 days for maize (two climate model combinations). Full maturity was on average 10 and 17 days earlier for wheat, and 19 and 36 days earlier for maize. On the country level, contamination of wheat with deoxynivalenol decreased slightly, but not significantly. Variability between regions was large, and individual regions showed a significant increase in deoxynivalenol concentrations. For maize, an overall decrease in deoxynivalenol contamination was projected, which was significant for one climate model combination, but not significant for the other one. In general, results disagree with previous reported expectations of increased feed and food safety hazards under climate change. This study illustrated the relevance of using quantitative models to estimate the impacts of climate change effects on food safety, and of considering both direct and indirect effects when assessing climate change impacts on crops and related food safety hazards.

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