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So the idea that people would consume this

and at Berkeley, as you probably know, they always want to know what have you published? Where is it? Give it to me, show it to me. So this whole publish or perish business. So I figured if I worked on cassava, I couldn't lose, because it's full of cyanide.

So I'll either prove it's good for you or I'll prove it's bad for you! [LAUGHTER] It was a calculated risk. And so when I would do measurements of the residual cyanide, even in the cooked product, there was still quite a bit.
But what really got my goat was driving back from Monrovia to the small town where we were living in Liberia at the time, and seeing a woman walk up onto the highway peeling a cassava root and eating it raw. And I thought, my God, what is she doing? She was eating it raw!

So the idea that people would consume this root without processing it other than peeling it was just amazing to me. You can also eat the leaves. These are the leaves, not to be confused with marijuana leaves. [LAUGHTER] But these leaves also contain the cyanogenic glycosides.

Now this is a part of a family of glycosides And you're probably familiar with the glycoside amygdalin from almonds or apple seeds or, they always tell you, don't eat the cherry seeds. Eat the cherry but leave the seeds alone, spit out the cherry, spit out the apple seeds.

And cyanide is ubiquitous in nature. It's so common in plants that we feel that there's probably multiple evolutionary benefits for having cyanide. And this is the cyanogenic glycoside. And as Mark alluded to, you have the enzyme on one side of the cell wall