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Authors: A. Randriamahefa, S. Smith, J. Penrod
Protein energy malnutrition (PEM) is a major problem facing the developing world. PEM results from insufficient consumption of proteins to meet the body’s nutritional needs, which is at least 0.8g/kg or 0.37g/lb according to the RDA requirement. It affects more than 500 million people, causing 10 million deaths every year worldwide.
Among the yams and tubers which make up the bulk of the diet, is cassava (Manihot esculenta Crantz), an all season crop grown throughout the tropics. Cassava roots are the third most important source of carbohydrate after rice and corn in these countries in Africa, Asia, and Latin America.
Cassava leaves, cheap and abundant in developing countries, represent a highly sustainable strategy to address the PEM challenges, and offer a significant alternative source of proteins to replace the costly conventional source of proteins. Cassava leaves may constitute a solution to alleviate PEM-related disease due to their high protein content (17-34% dry weight, depend on the varieties). However, the nutritional value of cassava leaves is limited because of the deficiency in Methionine content in relation to the FAO recommendation for protein.
Despite the food security it provides, Cassava roots and leaves contain potentially toxic levels of cyanogenic glycosides [linamarin (95%) and lotaustralin (5%)] (Conn, 1979, 1994; Balagopalan et al., 1988). Depending on the variety of the cassava, the cyanogenic glucoside content of the leaves could be as much as six times that of the root.
The authors include several activities to explore the nature of the problem in medical, social, and biological terms including investigating the potential of biotechnology and bioinformatics to address the global consequence of protein malnutrition,
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