Science & Technology
Bananas may be at risk of going extinct
By T.K. Randall
July 8, 2018 · 8 comments
The race is now on to develop a more resilient variety of Cavendish. Image Credit: CC BY-SA 3.0 Paasikivi
A particularly virulent disease is threatening to completely wipe out one of the world's favorite fruits.
With their appealing sweet taste and distinctive curved yellow shape, bananas are among the most popular fruits on Earth with more than 100 billion of them being consumed worldwide each year.
This could soon be set to change however as a disease known as 'fusarium wilt' has been ravaging crops in Australia and south-east Asia as well as in parts of Africa and the Middle-East.
If the disease should make its way to Latin America - the country from which the majority of bananas are exported - then it could spell doom for the humble banana as a sustainable food crop.
Something like this happened before when a tastier variety of banana was wiped out in the 1950s and replaced with the more resilient Cavendish which now accounts for 99.99% of bananas sold globally.
The race is now on to develop a more resilient variety of Cavendish that is immune to the disease.
"If you look at the broader consumption on top of exports, the banana industry is worth a massive $30bn a year," said Gilad Gershon, CEO of Norwich-based startup Tropic Biosciences.
"However, people have been getting increasingly worried because the plant is heavily cloned so if you have a disease that can kill one tree, it can potentially wipe out the entire industry."
Source: The Guardian
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