FHS Seminar Series - Mycotoxins in Food Insecure Countries

by Dr. J. David Miller, Department of Chemistry, Carleton University, Ottawa

October 19, 2017

Event Type

Seminar Series


October 19, 2017 at 12:00 pm to 1:15 pm


Blusson Hall, Room 9920


There are five agriculturally important mycotoxins in food and feed, aflatoxin (1961), ochratoxin (1965), deoxynivalenol (1974), zearlanone (1966) and fumonisin (1988). In the US and Canada, contamination by mycotoxins costs the agri-food system between $200 million and $2 billion in loss each year. This accrues from testing commodities, foods and feeds, crop losses to farmers and disruptions to the value chain. The WHO Global Burden of Disease FERG (2015) considered all relevant chemical contaminants of food. Aflatoxin accounted for more than half the cancers (~30% of liver cancer globally) and considering the contribution of aflatoxin to child stunting, aflatoxin has a health impact equal to all chemicals found in food. In Africa as well as parts of Latin America, exposure aflatoxin and fumonisin has greatly increased in the past 50 years. These toxins responsible for an enormous loss of disability adjusted life years in highly affected areas.  Over the past decade, I have been involved in a process to reverse this tide and improve public health.


Dr. Miller received his secondary education at the University of New Brunswick, before studying at the University of Portsmouth in England, where he was also a NATO Science Postdoctoral Fellow. His post-university career at Agriculture Canada in 1982, and became head of the Fusarium mycotoxin program in 1988. He became a Professor & NSERC Research Chair in fungal toxins and allergens at Carleton University in 2000. From 1999-2008, he was a visiting scientist and science advisor at Health Canada in the air health effects division. Among other tasks, Dr. Miller helped to draft the guidelines for mold and dampness published by Health Canada.

Dr. Miller has published >350 papers on fungi and fungal toxins and has co-written 9 books on the public health aspects of exposures to fungi, and has several patents. He participated in International Agency for Research on Cancer Monographs 56 and 86, and a panel leading to an IARC publication on mycotoxins and public health (Scientific Publication 158). He was a member of the drafting committee of the World Health Organization IPCS monograph on fumonisin B1. He was a member of the Toxicology Study Selection and Review Committee that considers compounds nominated by the US Food and Drug Administration to the National Toxicology Program. He chaired a WHO panel on fungal toxins in developing countries and co-edited the final report “Mycotoxin Control in Low- and Middle-Income Countries” (2016). Currently he is a member of the 83rd Joint Expert Committee on Food Additives and Contaminants (WHO/FAO). Aside from his interests in toxins that affect humans and animals, Miller has published extensively on foliar endophytes of conifers that produce toxins that affect insects.

Miller has served on many national and international committees on mold and dampness in the built environment including on the American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology committee that produced practice parameters for environmental allergens. He was chief editor of the American Industrial Hygiene Association “Green Book” and “Field Guide” that lay out guidelines for addressing mold and dampness in public buildings.

Miller is an elected member of the International Academy of Indoor Air Sciences. Among other awards, he received the AgExcellence Award from Agriculture Canada, the Toxicology Forum Scott Award for contributions to toxicology, the Applied Research Award from the Ottawa Life Sciences Council, and an AIHA award for contributions to the field of industrial hygiene. In 2013, Miller was elected as a Fellow of the American Industrial Hygiene Association. In 2016, he received the prestigious NSERC Synergy Award for his research partnership with JD Irving, Limited. Dr. Miller is a member of the Toxicology Forum in Washington.


* This Seminar Series is open to the SFU Research Community.  

* This seminar was recorded and may be viewed here by the FHS Research Community.

*  A light lunch will be available at this seminar.  

* The FHS Research Seminar Series is an Accredited Small Group Learning by the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons.