A researcher, Prof. Polycarp Okafor, has said metabolism of cassava cyanide does not play any significant role in chronic diseases such as goitre or goitre with cretinism, Konzo, Tropical Chronic Pancreatitis (TCP) and diabetes.
Okafor, a Professor of Biochemical Toxicology, said this at the 52nd inaugural lecture at the Michael Okpara University of Agriculture, Umudike (MOUAU), on Wednesday.
Okafor said some reported chronic cassava cyanide diseases were based on circumstantial evidence.
He admitted that the cassava cyanide toxicity with the associated chronic diseases should be a major concern for populations using the staple food, but added that he had overwhelming evidence from the result of his over 27 years of research on cassava cyanide, supported by results of other researchers, to back his claim.
Okafor said that some of those reported cases of chronic diseases could be as a result of malnutrition that plagued the countries or iodine deficiency as in the case of goitre or goitre with cretinism.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Okafor delivered a stimulating lecture, entitled “Metabolism of cassava cyanide and Jim Jones cyanide in humans: The imperative of food safety in the quest for food security.
”He said cassava could be processed into garri in a way that the residual cyanide content would be very low and would also have low glycemic index, thus could be consumed by diabetic patient.
He recommended that cassava and its products should be given a good priority to boost the economy and food security of the nation, and called on the Federal Government to rise to the challenge of ensuring that foods, drinks, water and the environment do not contain toxicants and chemical carcinogens beyond the acceptable limits.
In his remarks, MOUAU Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Maduebibisi Iwe, who was represented by the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academics), Prof. Herbert Udo, congratulated Okafor on his research and thought-provoking lecture.
“He has spoken to us soundly as a professor and as a scientist and we must appreciate him,” he said.