Sunday, November 11, 2018

Now There's Vomitoxin In the Corn

Along with cadaverine and putrescine this is one of the most perfectly named of Mother Nature's offerings.
It does exactly what is said on the tin.
If you can get pigs to eat grain that has the chemical on it, well you can guess what happens.

From Reuters, Nov. 10:

Toxin in U.S. corn harvest poses latest headache for farmers
North American farmers are finding increased levels of a plant toxin known as vomitoxin in this year's corn harvest, adding insult to injury for growers already suffering as the U.S.-China trade war hurts soybean exports and crop prices.

Vomitoxin sickens livestock and can also make humans and pets fall ill, and grain buyers can reject cargoes or fine farmers for shipments that contain it.

More cases than normal are likely in the corn crop because wet weather this autumn caused the fungus to develop while delaying harvests, Iowa State University grain quality expert Charles Hurburgh said on Monday.

About three-fourths of U.S. corn is used domestically to feed livestock and make ethanol and a byproduct called distillers' dried grains that is fed to animals. However, livestock and ethanol producers need to blend corn that contains vomitoxin with corn that does not to make it suitable for feed when toxin levels are high.

"Hogs don't like the taste and don't like the smell. They will literally starve to death before eating it," said Indiana grain inspector Doug Titus of Titus Grain Inspection, whose company has labs at Andersons Inc, a crop handler, and energy company Valero Energy Corp sites.

The quality worries come as U.S. farm income has plunged by half over the past five years and as the deepening trade war harms demand for soybeans, the most valuable U.S. agricultural export product to China, and one frequently rotated with corn.

WH Group Ltd's Smithfield Foods Inc [SFII.UL], the world's biggest pork producer, has detected vomitoxin in corn in Iowa and Nebraska, where it is not normally a problem, a source with knowledge of the situation said....MORE
If there should be some  porcine epidemic diarrhea virus (PED) floating around at the same time...
On to something more cheery:

How to make Cadaverine (Smell of Death)

Warning: Cadaverine is absolutely putrid and it taints everything that it comes into contact with. 
It also does not wash off too easily. 
This video was more of a proof of concept than an actual synthesis.
The amount of lysine and sodium bicabonate used was relatively arbitrary. In this video I use two methods to produce cadaverine:
1. Basic heating: This is not very efficient and burns a lot of the cadaverine.
2. Destructive distillation: I use an improvised destructive distillation setup. 
This method is much more efficient because it is carried out under a nitrogen atmosphere. Higher temperatures can be used without risking burning. 
I honestly did not proceed further in the second method because of the putrid smell. A lot more cadaverine was produced and the smell was making me nauseous. 
The lysine hydrochloride can be purchased from health supplement stores. I got 250g for about $17 shipped from