Scientist: Cassava disease spread at alarming rate

JOHANNESBURG (AP) — Scientists say a disease destroying entire crops of cassava has spread out of East Africa into the heart of the continent and is attacking plants as far south as Angola and now threatens to move west into Nigeria, the world's biggest producer of the potato-like root that helps feed 500 million Africans.

Claude Fauquet, co-founder of the Global Cassava Partnership for the 21st Century, told The Associated Press that the devastating results are already dramatic today but could be catastrophic tomorrow if nothing is done to halt the Cassava Brown Streak Disease, or CBSD.

He said that Africa, with a burgeoning population and debilitating food shortages, is losing 50 million tons a year of cassava to the disease.

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