Biotech Updates

African Farmers Could Plant Virus-resistant Cassava by 2015

July 16, 2010

African farmers could soon plant cassava breeds resistant to major diseases caused by viruses. One of these diseases is the cassava mosaic disease, which promotes underdeveloped growth; and the brown streak disease, which causes deterioration of roots. The mosaic disease alone destroys about 35 million tonnes of cassava in Africa annually.

US-based Donald Danforth Plant Science Center scientists conducted field trials of GM tobacco with mosaic disease-resistance in Uganda and they also have pending trials for cassava with the same modification. In addition,  there is a request for permission to run field trials of cassava with brown streak-resistance. According to Claude Fauquet, Director of the Cassava Research at the Center, the transgenic crops could be commercially available in 2015. On the other hand, another team of researchers from the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture are also expecting approval for field trials of cassava breeds resistant to mosaic disease in Kenya and Tanzania .

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