North Carolina State University
Peanut is a dietary staple in much of West Africa, and is also an important cash crop. Production is limited by disease and insects. Further, access to advanced production technologies is very limited. Irrigation is generally unavailable, so the crop is dependent upon rainfall. Drought typically leads to increased levels of aflatoxin in the crop. Aflatoxin must be detected using sophisticated test procedures that are unlikely to be available to either the grower or potential consumers of the product in West Africa, and this requirement also causes significant economic losses in developed countries. Exposure to aflatoxin is likely in countries lacking the means or economic incentive to eliminate contaminated peanuts from the market, and could cause serious health problems to both humans and livestock. Aflatoxin is one of only a few proven hepato-carcinogens. Further, chronic exposure in children is known to cause increased morbidity, and resulting losses pose a serious threat to development. While progress is being made to breed aflatoxin-resistant peanut cultivars, no such varieties are currently available anywhere in the world. Clearly there is need for varieties with improved aflatoxin resistance in both the Developing and Developed world. Importantly, if such resistant materials are to be helpful in West Africa, or in the peanut growing regions of the United States, this trait must be effectively incorporated into locally adapted varieties.