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Jul 9, 2010

GM Virus Resistant Cassava Possible By 2015

Cassava with brown streak virus
photo courtesy University of Greenwich
On 9 July 2010 SciDev.Net reported that researchers at the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center in Missouri had announced the possibility of releasing cassava gene-modified to be resistance to two major virus. 

The specifics on the gene-modified (GM) cassava are to be published by Molecular Plant Pathology in August 2010.  Lead author of the study is Claude Fauquet, director of cassava research at the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center. 

In the laboratory the Danforth Plant Science team has gene-engineered tobacco to be resistant to brown streak disease.  This is one of two major viruses that strikes cassava, impedes its growth and rots its roots.  The other virus is cassava mosaic disease. 

According to the Danforth Plant Science team, finding a cure for these viruses could make the difference between food independence and the need for importing food. 

The next step is to conduct field tests on GM cassava in Kenya, Uganda, and Nigeria. This is an important step as researchers want and need to understand the local conditions, varieties, and customs.  Collaboration will also be conducted with the International Institute for Tropical Agriculture.  Approval for these field tests is pending approval and commercialization is not expected before 2015.

For more see: Laursen, Lucas. "Virus-resistant cassava could be available by 2015," SciDev.Net, 9 July 2010.

About Margaret

CEO and Curator (The Food Museum) | Managing Director and Chief Editor (GR2 Global LLC) | Educator (UCLA PhD) | Researching and writing on global food issues, nutrition and health, sustainability, history (preservation), conservation (natural resources), and design.
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