The diet of more than 800 million people revolves around neither wheat, nor corn, nor rice. Instead in many countries the main staple consists of the starchy roots of a plant variously called cassava, tapioca, manioc or yuca (not to be confused with the succulent plant yucca). Indeed, cassava contributes more to the world’s calorie budget than any other food except rice and wheat, which makes it a virtually irreplaceable resource against hunger. Throughout the tropics, families typically cultivate it for their own consumption on small parcels of land, although in Asia and in parts of Latin America the plant is also grown commercially for use in animal feed and starch-based products. The root’s nutritional value, however, is poor: it contains little protein, vitamins or other nutrients such as iron. Better varieties of cassava could thus effectively alleviate malnutrition in much of the developing world.