No more bananas

The global die-out continues

January 11, 2011

The news of the banana’s death has been widely reported for decades. A cloned crop that’s hard to hybridize, the banana is the perfect target for a variety of diseases, fungi, and other pests.

Now comes the latest update, from the New Yorker, which includes a recap of the banana’s complicated history and focuses on Tropical Race Four, a very effective and deadly fungus with a NASCAR-evocative name.

The secret to the banana’s survival? Genetic diversity, of course. “The only way to keep going is to breed a disease-resistant variety, one with commercial potential. That’s the only way,” an Australian grower told reporter Mike Peed. “Someone has to do this work. Otherwise, there’ll be grief.”

But a successful scientific defense is years, if not decades, away.

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