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Fortunately, of the vast number of mushroom species that exists, only a few produce secondary metabolites that cause fatal poisonings. If toxins causing benign symptoms, such as abdominal pain and diarrhea, hallucinations, or alcohol incompatibility, are disregarded, the most significant mushroom toxins are the extremely hazardous compounds of amatoxins, orellanine, and, to a lesser extent, methylhydrazine and its derivatives. Consequently, there is only a handful of mushroom species that one should strictly keep away from, or at least avoid ingesting. Studying to identify these few species seems more profitable than learning to identify all the edible mushrooms, of which there are so many. Moreover, considering that more than 90% of all fatal cases of mushroom poisoning in Europe are due solely to Amanita phalloides, the abilility to discern Amanita phalloides infallably in all its varieties and stages of development would save nine lives of ten otherwise lost by mushroom poisoning.

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