There is a massive and urgent need to ensure security and safety of the food supply of the growing world population. The ongoing war in Ukraine as well as the energy crisis emphasized this even further. However, agriculture and food industries continue to be vulnerable to problems of contamination with biotoxins produced by plants, algae and particularly by fungi. Global warming and extreme weather events make the occurrence of these toxic metabolites even less predictable. Alarmingly, the EU currently faces a lack of food safety specialists, as recognised by the European Commission. These challenges lay the foundation for BIOTOXDoc – Safe food in a world of changing climate: The doctoral training programme to develop novel control, mitigation and risk assessment methods for biotoxins. The objective of BIOTOXDoc is to train doctoral students in a broad range of skills and complementary competencies – necessary to innovate various scientific fields and approaches so urgently needed to control and mitigate biotoxins – by taking advantage of a multidisciplinary, multi-sectoral team of world-class experts. The training and research will include development of early warning systems and on‑site testing by portable mass spectrometry. Doctoral candidates will develop novel detoxification strategies of biotoxins and will assess the combined toxicity of co‑occurring biotoxins. Moreover, doctoral candidates will develop much-needed rapid as well as confirmatory tests for biotoxins and aim to close major gaps in our current knowledge of biotoxins. The major common link between all doctoral candidates, working on a wide range of biotoxins at different points along the food and feed chain, is the influence of climate change on biotoxin occurrence and the resulting demand of revised strategies to mitigate its impact on the European population.
BIOTOXDoc has received funding by the European Research Executive Agency (REA), under the powers delegated by the European Commission (grant agreement No. 101119901) as well as the UK Research and Innovation (UKRI grant EP/Y02964X/1).