Cassava root moving from the kitchen to the factory

cassava mandioca Photo: Gerhard Waller/ Esalq
Photo: Gerhard Waller/ Esalq

“I salute the mandioca! One of Brazil’s greatest achievements.” Former President Dilma Rousseff was ridiculed for this declaration back in 2015 but, in actual fact, there is nothing that unites Brazilians more—north to south, east to west—than cassava. Known locally as mandioca, macaxeira, or aipim, the root can be found on dinner tables all across the country in various different forms. But recent research from engineers at the University of São Paulo (USP) suggests that cassava’s benefits may go beyond the kitchen.

A team of USP researchers has used cassava starch to develop a biodegradable plastic film that is, according...

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