Science Café – When the Bread of Life Becomes the Scepter of Death

Science Café – When the Bread of Life Becomes the Scepter of Death

Categories: Lectures and Seminars | Intended for

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

1:30 PM - 2:30 PM | Add to calendar

Location Details

Attending via Zoom Webinar. Detailed instructions will be emailed to you prior to the online event.

Contact Information

Office of the Dean of Science, 613-520-4388,



About this Event

Host Organization: Office of the Dean of Science
More Information: Please click here for additional details.

Speaker: David Miller, Department of Chemistry

When COVID is a memory, one of the legacies of this time may be the return to baking. Flour mills are working flat out to meet demand, even century old mills in Canada. In the Middle Ages, people obtained 50-70% of their calories from bread. Per capital bread consumption in Canada roughly halved between 1900 and 1955 and but still counts for about 20% of calories.

Although mostly people worry about man-made chemicals, far more serious are four important fungal toxins or mycotoxins. These compounds were discovered because they affected humans or domestic animals, not theoretical lab studies. Somewhere in North America every year, a variable percentage of corn or wheat cannot be used for human food or feed. In the US and Canada, more analysis is done on food for the toxins that fungi make than the sum of all other analyses for contaminants put together. Managing and regulating mycotoxins costs an enormous amount of money each year and in some years the losses to farmers can be staggering. Because of abundance this never affects consumers. We throw away the contaminated corn and wheat. In most of the developing world, the situation is not so happy.

Dr. Miller will introduce this interesting topic that has plagued humankind since Biblical times, outline how it affects Ontario and overview the impact on parts of the developing world where many get most of their calories from grain.

About the Science Café

Come and virtually join us for a lively discussion around a scientific issue of the day. Be prepared to be informed, engaged and even amused, as our professors share their scientific discoveries with you. All are welcome. For more information, please contact the Faculty of Science by email at

Please note: this session is being recorded and will be posted on various social media platforms and the Faculty of Science website at the conclusion of the event.