Description

Konstantin investigates how scientific institutions, farmers and traders produce and translate knowledge of the aflatoxins produced by the moulds of the Aspergillus flavus species as by‐products of its metabolism.They are the most toxic and potent hepatocarcinogenic natural compounds ever characterized. Being invisible and tasteless, the toxins can only be detected with specific testing technologies. In Kenya, people with limited or no access to testing methods, knowingly and unknowingly interact with moulds on an everyday basis. This invisibility is one source of toxic uncertainty. Different local and global institutions aim to address this problem by testing maize and linking aflatoxins to health problems. Konstantin’s research addresses the question of how the actors come to know and connects this knowledge production to forms of accountability. The exact intervention that addresses the lack of knowledge can generate economic problems for the farmers: the better access to testing tools renders food as potentially dangerous, but without resources to manage fungi or purchase aflatoxin‐free maize, the farmers’ situation is precarious. Additionally, regulators are forced to confiscate and destroy contaminated crops, resulting in further food shortages and adding to the problem of famine and malnutrition in parts of Kenya. Therefore, the fight against aflatoxin produces uncertainty in the very field it should address: food security.  Konstantin’s research investigates these entanglements of toxic uncertainty, scientific and humanitarian intervention and accountability.

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