Cassava with improved starch

Using the famous CRISPR-Cas9 gene scissors, plant biotechnologists at ETH Zurich have been able to improve cassava. The new variety has amylose-free or 'waxy' starch, which is preferred by industry.

West African states in joint fight against root crop 'Ebola'

Researchers from half a dozen states in West Africa have joined together in a battle against what one expert calls a root crop "Ebola"—a viral disease that could wreck the region's staple food and condemn millions to hunger.

Protecting cassava from disease? There's an app for that

Cassava is one of the developing world's most important crops. Its starchy roots and leaves are a staple food for more than 500 million people in Africa each day. And Africa produces half of the world's total cassava output; ...

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Cassava

Cassava (Manihot esculenta), also called yuca or manioc, a woody shrub of the Euphorbiaceae (spurge family) native to South America, is extensively cultivated as an annual crop in tropical and subtropical regions for its edible starchy tuberous root, a major source of carbohydrates. It differs from the similarly-spelled yucca, an unrelated fruit-bearing plant.

Cassava is the third largest source of food carbohydrates in the world. Nigeria is the world's largest producer of cassava. It is classified as sweet or bitter, depending on the level of toxic cyanogenic glucosides. (However, bitter taste is not always a reliable measure.) Improper preparation of cassava can leave enough residual cyanide to cause acute cyanide intoxication and goiters, and has been linked to ataxia or partial paralysis. Nevertheless, farmers often prefer the bitter varieties because they deter pests, animals, and thieves. In some locations the more toxic varieties serve as a fall-back resource (a "food security crop") in times of famine.

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