Mycotoxins in ethanol co-products: modeling economic impacts on the livestock industry and management strategies

Author(s): Wu F, Munkvold GP


The rapidly expanding U.S. ethanol industry is generating a growing supply of co-products, mostly in the form of dried distillers' grain and solubles (DDGS) or wet distillers' grains (WDG). In the United States, 90% of the co-products of maize-based ethanol are fed to livestock. An unintended consequence is that animals are likely to be fed higher levels of mycotoxins, which are concentrated up to three times in DDGS compared to grain. The model developed in this study estimates current losses to the swine industry from weight gain reduction due to fumonisins in added DDGS at $9 million ($2-18 million) annually. If there is complete market penetration of DDGS in swine feed with 20% DDGS inclusion in swine feed and fumonisins are not controlled, losses may increase to $147 million ($29-293 million) annually. These values represent only those losses attributable to one mycotoxin on one adverse outcome on one species. The total loss due to mycotoxins in DDGS could be significantly higher due to additive or multiplicative effects of multiple mycotoxins on animal health. If mycotoxin surveillance is implemented by ethanol producers, losses are shifted among multiple stakeholders. Solutions to this problem include methods to reduce mycotoxin contamination in both pre- and postharvest maize.

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