Bannanas Going Going Gone

Posted on November 29, 2005  Comments (2)

Can This Fruit Be Saved? by Dan Koeppel, Popular Science:

The banana as we know it is on a crash course toward extinction. For scientists, the battle to resuscitate the world”™s favorite fruit has begun…

. It also turns out that the 100 billion Cavendish bananas consumed annually worldwide are perfect from a genetic standpoint, every single one a duplicate of every other. It doesn”™t matter if it comes from Honduras or Thailand, Jamaica or the Canary Islands””each Cavendish is an identical twin to one first found in Southeast Asia, brought to a Caribbean botanic garden in the early part of the 20th century, and put into commercial production about 50 years ago.

That sameness is the banana”™s paradox. After 15,000 years of human cultivation, the banana is too perfect, lacking the genetic diversity that is key to species health. What can ail one banana can ail all. A fungus or bacterial disease that infects one plantation could march around the globe and destroy millions of bunches, leaving supermarket shelves empty.

What can ail one banana can ail all. A fungus or bacterial disease that infects one plantation could march around the globe and destroy millions of bunches, leaving supermarket shelves empty.

A wild scenario? Not when you consider that there”™s already been one banana apocalypse. Until the early 1960s, American cereal bowls and ice cream dishes were filled with the Gros Michel, a banana that was larger and, by all accounts, tastier than the fruit we now eat.

2 Responses to “Bannanas Going Going Gone”

  1. Curious Cat Science and Engineering Blog » Blog Archive » Invention Machine
    May 3rd, 2006 @ 7:54 am

    […] Previous posts on popular science articles: Bannanas Going Going Gone and Colored Bubbles.   [link] […]

  2. Curious Cat: Bananas Going
    June 25th, 2008 @ 1:32 pm

    “The urgency of this cannot be overstated. Uganda and the nations surrounding it absolutely depend on bananas as a staple foodstuff. Millions rely on bananas for survival…”

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