Biotech Updates

Scientists Note Rapid Spread of CBSD in Africa

May 29, 2013

New outbreaks and the increased spread of the Cassava Brown Streak Disease or CBSD is causing alarm among scientists. The rapidly proliferating plant virus could cause a 50 percent decrease in production of a crop that provides a significant source of food and income for 300 million Africans.

"Cassava is already incredibly important for Africa and is poised to play an even bigger role in the future, which is why we need to move quickly to contain and eliminate this plague," said Claude Fauquet, a scientist at the International Center for Tropical Agriculture who heads the Global Cassava Partnership for the 21st Century (GCP21).

GCP21 members, an alliance of scientists, developers, donors and industry representatives met at the Rockefeller Foundation Bellagio Center in Italy for a conference dedicated to "declaring war on cassava viruses in Africa." Discussion points included a variety of tactics to combat virus diseases and a bold regional strategy to eradicate cassava viruses. Approaches being considered are new molecular breeding and genetic engineering technologies to speed up the selection and production of virus resistant cassava cultivars.

More information is available from Dr. Claude Fauquet at