The Good Maize Gets Burned – While Toxic Leftovers Wind Up In Our Food Chain!

It’s bad enough that the environment is taking a hit from millions of acres of land being converted to a vast monoculture of maize to supply biogas plants and ethanol producers that are supposed to rescue the environment.

Maize harvest

Food for saving the climate. Consumers get stuck with contaminated leftovers. Photo credit: Bill Whittaker, Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

And it is morally questionable that today thousands of tonnes of maize are being taken off the plates of the world’s hungry in order to rescue them from a computer-modelled climate change in 2100.

If that wasn’t bad enough, now the maize that’s left for consumers in Germany is contaminated with cancer-causing Alfatoxin fungus. Bottom line: The good stuff gets burned, and we en up eating the toxic crap that’s left!

As maize farmers in Germany sell their harvests of top quality maize to subsidized biogas plants next door for conversion to biogas fuel, animal feed producers and food processing companies can no longer pay the high local prices and thus have to source the maize they need from foreign countries with low standards and dubious agricultural practices. Result: garbage winds up in the human food chain.

Today, all the major German media outlets are reporting on the discovery of thousands of tons of animal-feed contaminated with Alfatoxin fungus. These animals are for future meat and dairy products consumption.

News magazine Spiegel writes:

In Lower Saxony at least 10,000 tonnes of toxic maize feed are now in the feed chain. The goods originate from Serbia, and according to the Minister of Agriculture they are contaminated with the carcinogenic Aflatoxin fungus.”

The question many are now asking is: What is all this dangerous-grade maize feed from Serbia doing in Germany when so much of it is grown here locally? Europeans are burning the high quality maize and poisoning themselves to protect the climate!

Spiegel reports that up to 3500 beef livestock farms may be affected, supplied by 13 feedmills in Lower Saxony. Overall, up to 45,000 tonnes of feed may be involved.

Spiegel writes that Aflatoxin B1 “is one of the most carcinogenic substances in nature” and that the shipment from Serbia had a concentration that was 10 times higher than the allowable limit. The substance was first detected in contaminated milk.

Authorities claim that there is a little danger to consumers.


7 responses to “The Good Maize Gets Burned – While Toxic Leftovers Wind Up In Our Food Chain!”

  1. DirkH

    Aflatoxin is quite common in nuts; when you have a hazelnut and it’s bitter it’s infected with a fungus that produces the toxin so you should not eat it.
    I guess the Aflatoxin is largely broken down in the pig or passes through it… Does it even survive cooking? Dunno. Wouldn’t worry. You taste it if it’s there.

    That being said, it’s quite bizarre to burn expensive maize and eat cheap maize. Typical result of meddling with the market.

  2. TheJollyGreenMan

    Hi Pierre,

    Let’s make sure we get all the facts straight before we get our knickers in a twist.

    According to Wiki all crops stored contain Alfatoxins, what is important is the amount of toxins. The guidelines show quite a wide spread, and up to 100 ppB are allowed for animal feedstock.

    I have noticed that the press here in the UK also seems to be on a bandwagon about how the dirty nasty evil capitalists want to poison us all, especially after the horsemeat contamination scandal. Horses are being treated with a certain drug that sounds like bute, and our rabid Labour MP Harriet Harman carried on about the treat to public health which the evil nasty Tories don’t care about. The advisor to the Health secretary pointed out that you need to 500kgs of horse meat for two years before you consumed one dosis of the drug.

    My point is therefor: is this a real crises, or media hype with the anti-capitalist undertones that goes with it. Will our health be better if our local community run cooperative farm provided us all with food?

    You are right about the madness of biofuels, but if the general population wants to behave and act like lemmings, I am not going to block their way to the cliff edge. They voted for the fools that govern us, they lap up the bull dished out by the AGW spin doctors, let them deal with it.

  3. Red Jeff

    Just a note Aflatoxin is spelled alfatoxin in the 3rd and 5th paragraphs. Really appreciate your site, thanks for all of your time and effort.

  4. PeterF

    If I am not mistaken then the aflatoxin containing maize feed is the kernels of the maize, not the stalks. While the maize used for biofuel are basically only the stalks. Maize in Germany mostly does not ripe into the state, where kernels can be harvested – it is too cold here, and not enough sunshine. At last, the German southern border is in latitude about the US north border.

    So maize kernels for animal may have to always be imported into Germany, be it from southern Europe or from the US, or elsewhere.

    1. DirkH

      “While the maize used for biofuel are basically only the stalks. ”

      Not correct. The entire plant is shredded and used. Complete with kernels. To which state maize ripens in Germany I don’t know but I do know that one time in October in Bavaria I grapped a corn cob from a field and it was edible and sweet enough for my taste. That was in the 80ies.

      1. DirkH

        Addendum: The original plan was to use only waste material for biogas converters, i.e. the stalks; but farmers soon found out that the methane producing bacteria thrive much better when you give them more energetic input, – carbohydrates, in other words so they started to use the whole plant.

        The original sustainability prophets never planned to burn the fruit… The law of unintended consequences. Key to the viability are the subsidies, the rest develops accordingly.

        How do I know that they shred the whole plant? Guys in a neighbouring office were developing software for a modern harvester and tested the harvester during a corn harvest in Lower Saxony.

        But you can also find confirmation of my story all over the German internet.

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