Tuesday, June 29, 2021

Business Insider explains 'why the world's most popular banana may go extinct'

It's been eight years since I first wrote "the dessert bananas people eat are threatened by fungus because of the unintended effects of growing monocultures of clones," so when I saw Why The World’s Most Popular Banana May Go Extinct | Big Business, I was saddened and alarmed, but not particularly surprised. Watch to see how the banana crisis has progressed since I last blogged about it in 2014, before Tropical Race 4 of Panama Disease had reached South America in 2019.

Bananas are facing a pandemic, too. Almost all of the bananas exported globally are just one variety called the Cavendish. And the Cavendish is vulnerable to a fungus called Panama Disease, which is ravaging banana farms across the globe. If it's not stopped, the Cavendish may go extinct. We visited a farm in Colombia infected with Panama Disease and a lab in the Netherlands studying the fungus to see if biosecurity and breeding can save the $25 billion banana industry.
I make the point that growing monocultures of clones is a bad idea every semester and this video shows why. Worse yet, the video and I both describe that it happened before and all growers did was replace the variety grown, which illustrates another point I make, that people don't learn and repeat their mistakes. At least this time, growers in Columbia are implementing measures that will slow the spread of the disease, which might give them more time to find a solution other than the genetically modified Cavendish that I think works well from a scientific and technological perspective, but is unpalatable socially and politically. Sigh. People have to accept the solution for it to really work.

Watching this reminds me that I promised to share a Business Insider video about the rise, fall, and return of Twinkies three months ago but haven't done so yet. I'll get to that after observing Asteroid Day tomorrow, Canada Day Thursday, and World UFO Day on Friday. Saturday looks open before I celebrate July 4th on Sunday. Stay tuned.

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