Using VC technology to present this talk to an audience at UIC, a Professor in the Department of Chemistry at Carleton University (Ottawa), Prof J David Miller, gave a lecture titled "Mycotoxins: threats to public health and the agricultural economy". This lecture was organised by the Division of Science and Technology (DST) on 26 October.

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About VC technology

The video conferencing technology used to make this guest talk happen was organised by UIC’s Information Technology Services Centre (ITSC) department. ITSC used Polycom, as it uses a static IP for communication, and it is available to be used by all staff at UIC for purpose of lectures, meetings and interviews. With Polycom technology, there is no need to bring the speaker to UIC, instead time and money can be saved and the process made more efficient. Anyone interested in using Polycom technology for future guest lectures can download the form from the ITSC webpage or contact Senior Technical Officer at ITSC, Mr Kevin Zhao Zheng.

About the lecture

Prof Miller spoke via a live direct video stream to an audience in UIC while he was at HKBU. During his lecture, Prof Miller talked about the five agriculturally important mycotoxins in food and feed. These mycotoxins are aflatoxin, ochratoxin, deoxynivalenol, zearlanone and fumonisin. He went on further to explain that in the US and Canada, contamination from mycotoxins costs the agro-food system between $200 million and $2 billion in losses each year. Prof Miller focused on aflatoxin and deoxnivalenol, which are the two mycotoxins in China that have historically had a large impact on public health. The WHO Global Burden of Disease FERG (2015) calculated all relevant chemical contaminants of food, and aflatoxin accounted for more than half of cancers caused by food. Over the past three decades, very significant reductions in human exposure to these aflatoxin and deoxynivalenol have been achieved in China, which has correlated with an associated reduction in disease. The presence of these toxins in export commodities from China results in economic losses every year, and Prof Miller explained that in the EU, the US and Canada, aflatoxin in products sourced from China is the reason for about 1/3rd of the import rejections.

Prof Miller speaking to the audience via video conferencing technology

About Prof Miller

Prof Miller completed his undergraduate degree at the University of New Brunswick, before studying at the University of Portsmouth in England, where he was selected as a NATO Science Postdoctoral Fellow. His post-university career took him to Agriculture Canada in 1982, becoming 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. Prof Miller has published more than 350 papers on fungi and fungal toxins and has co-written nine books on the public health aspects of exposures to fungi, and has several patents. He also participated in the 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 Organisation 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). He is a member of the 83rd Joint Expert Committee on Food Additives and Contaminants (WHO/FAO; 2016-17).

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Reporter: Samuel Burgess
Photographer: Jia Qi Sun (Year 1, CTV)
Editors: Deen He, Samantha Burns
(From MPRO)