The biocassava plus program: Biofortification of cassava for sub-Saharan Africa

Richard Sayre, John R. Beeching, Edgar B. Cahoon, Chiedozie Egesi, Claude Fauquet, John Fellman, Martin Fregene, Wilhelm Gruissem, Sally Mallowa, Mark Manary, Bussie Maziya-Dixon, Ada Mbanaso, Daniel P. Schachtman, Dimuth Siritunga, Nigel Taylor, Herve Vanderschuren, Peng Zhang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

217 Scopus citations


More than 250 million Africans rely on the starchy root crop cassava (Manihot esculenta) as their staple source of calories. A typical cassava-based diet, however, provides less than 30% of the minimum daily requirement for protein and only 10%â€"20% of that for iron, zinc, and vitamin A. The BioCassava Plus (BC+) program has employed modern biotechnologies intended to improve the health of Africans through the development and delivery of genetically engineered cassava with increased nutrient (zinc, iron, protein, and vitamin A) levels. Additional traits addressed by BioCassava Plus include increased shelf life, reductions in toxic cyanogenic glycosides to safe levels, and resistance to viral disease. The program also provides incentives for the adoption of biofortified cassava. Proof of concept was achieved for each of the target traits. Results from field trials in Puerto Rico, the first confined field trials in Nigeria to use genetically engineered organisms, and ex ante impact analyses support the efficacy of using transgenic strategies for the biofortification of cassava.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)251-272
Number of pages22
JournalAnnual Review of Plant Biology
StatePublished - Jun 2 2011


  • Africa
  • malnutrition
  • plant biotechnology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Molecular Biology
  • Plant Science
  • Cell Biology


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