Innovation That Matters

Mycotoxins affect around 25 per cent of agricultural commodities each year | Photo source Thomas Vermeersch on Unsplash

A portable device rapidly detects toxins in crops

Agriculture & Energy

The detection kit allows field tests to be conducted on agricultural produce – with results in minutes rather than days

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Spotted: Mycotoxins are poisonous substances produced by fungi. They can be found in food, with around 25 per cent of agricultural commodities affected each year. Cereals, nuts, spices, dried fruits, apples, and coffee beans are particularly susceptible. Not only does this pose a threat to human health – it also leads to food waste. And climate change is contributing to the challenge, with increasingly humid conditions leading to higher rates of mycotoxin contamination in food products and animal feed.

Due to the threat posed by mycotoxins, agricultural produce must be tested. But many traditional techniques require both skilled personnel and the use of a laboratory. This leads to a slow turnaround time of around seven days.

To tackle this, Kyiv-based startup BIOsens, has developed a portable solution for testing crops in the field. This consists of a device that can be used by untrained personnel outside of a lab setting. The device is unique in automating the preparation of crop samples and can analyse the mycotoxin content of crops within 21 minutes – allowing farming companies to make quick decisions on crop management. Information on the results is provided in an easy-to-access format via a mobile app.

The company stresses that the precision offered by lab tests is valuable, but that immediate results from field tests are more important for farmers who need to make decisions on the ground.

The startup was founded in 2018 and has spent the last three years developing and testing its technology. The company’s plans are for commercial sales to begin by the end of 2022.

Reducing food waste is crucial for curbing climate change. Other innovations spotted by Springwise that tackle the issue include a food preservative that modifies the air around produce, and a digital platform that connect food producers who have surplus or imperfect produce with manufacturers who can use it.

Written By: Matthew Hempstead



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