Yes, We Have No Bananas!

A

Anonymous

Guest
#1
in 10 years we may have no bananas
Yes - in 10 years we may have no bananas
James Meek, science correspondent
Thursday January 16, 2003
The Guardian
It is a freakish, doped-up, mutant clone which hasn't had sex for thousands of years - and the strain may be about to tell on the nation's fruitbowl favourite.

Scientists based in France have warned that, without radical and swift action, in 10 years' time we really could have no bananas. Two fungal diseases, Panama disease and black Sigatoka, are cutting a swath through banana plantations, just as blight once devastated potato crops. But unlike the potato, and other crops where disease-resistant strains can be bred by conventional means, making a fungus-free variety of the banana is extraordinarily difficult.

Emile Frison, head of the Montpellier-based International Network for the Improvement of Banana and Plantain, told New Scientist magazine that the banana business could be defunct within a decade. This doesn't just mean we will be eating aubergine splits and that future govern ments may be mocked for policy melon skins. The banana, in various forms, is the staple diet for some half billion people in Asia and Africa.

Almost all the varieties of banana grown today are cuttings - clones, in effect - of naturally mutant wild bananas discovered by early farmers as much as 10,000 years ago. The rare mutation caused wild bananas to grow sterile, without seeds. Those ancient farmers took cuttings of the mutants, then cuttings of the cuttings.
Plants use reproduction to continuously shuffle their gene pool, building up variety so that part of the species will survive an otherwise deadly disease. Because sterile mutant bananas cannot breed, they do not have that protection.

Commercial banana plantations were devastated in the 1950s when Panama disease slew the dominant variety, the Gros Michel. A resistant variety, the Cavendish, filled the gap. But only massive amounts of fungicide spray - 40 sprayings a year is common - now keep Sigatoka at bay, and a new version of Panama disease cannot be sprayed. The Amazon banana crop has been devastated by the fungi, and accord ing to Mr Frison, some parts of Africa now face the equivalent of the Irish potato famine.
One possibility is GM bananas, but growers fear consumer resistance. The big growers are pinning their hopes on better fungicides.

One ray of hope comes from Honduran scientists, who peeled and sieved 400 tonnes of bananas to find 15 seeds for breeding. They have come up with a fungus-resistant variety which could be grown organically. If bananas don't disappear from supermarket shelves by 2013, they will look, and taste, different.
http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk_news/story/0,3604,875612,00.html
 
A

Anonymous

Guest
#4
Tinfoil Hat Wearer Alert!!!

It's those alien lizards what run everything. They've spread not one, but two diseases, just to make sure they wipe out natural bananas! And then they'll replace them with terrifying GM Mutations!!!
 

Spookyangel

Justified & Ancient
Joined
May 2, 2002
Messages
1,023
Likes
12
Points
69
#5
I'd be lost without bananas. I have one every day mid morning for a snack at work. No, I'm not a creature of habit. ;)
 
A

Anonymous

Guest
#9
i've yet to taste a plantain. i saw an episode of the Food Hunter and he was in Jamaica sampling plantains and bread fruit, all sauteed and sweet. mmmmm...
 
A

Anonymous

Guest
#10
GM Bananas

So, really this is a form of genetic engineering gone wrong.
But genetic engineering carried out thousands of years ago by early cultivators.
It would be a laugh if modern GM was the only way that the banana could be saved...
This is perhaps a problem with engineered food, even that created by neolithic farmers-
overspecialisation that sooner or later needs additional tweaking to replace natural selection.
Oh, and plantains are horrible raw.
 
A

Anonymous

Guest
#11
synthwerk said:
i've yet to taste a plantain. i saw an episode of the Food Hunter and he was in Jamaica sampling plantains and bread fruit, all sauteed and sweet. mmmmm...
I've tried them Jamaican style with fish fritters and with salt fish with rice and okra (gumbo). Great stuff! All very fattening though. :p

Don't they do plantain in New Orleans? Supposed to be some of the best food in the world there!

:)
 

_schnor

Abominable Snowman
Joined
Aug 14, 2001
Messages
995
Likes
7
Points
49
#12
mmm, I'd seriously love to go there and gorge myself silly with gumbo, cajun fish, etc ;)
 
A

Anonymous

Guest
#14
Caroline said:
The thought of large areas of Africa being without plantains.
Surely this is going to have a serious effect on the economies of countries who rely heavily on Banana Exports?
 
A

Anonymous

Guest
#16
The BBC World Service Keep You Up To Date On Banana News!

4imix said:
Surely this is going to have a serious effect on the economies of countries who rely heavily on Banana Exports?
Not as much as those where they're a staple part of the diet.

However, apparently this epidemic only really affects one variety, the Cavendish variety. This sterile strain is grown entirely from cuttings. It is the variety you almost always see in the shops, though. That's what could vanish.

There are many more varieties out there, used on a local level all over the tropics and hotter parts as an important part of the diet.

Who knows, perhaps, if the don't use it as an excuse to foist GM 'nanas on us, we might even get a bit of choice and variety out there. ;)
 
Joined
Aug 18, 2002
Messages
19,431
Likes
120
Points
129
#18
A future with no bananas?

* 11:00 13 May 2006
* From New Scientist Print Edition. Subscribe and get 4 free issues.


Go bananas while you still can. The world's most popular fruit and the fourth most important food crop of any sort is in deep trouble. Its genetic base, the wild bananas and traditional varieties cultivated in India, has collapsed.

Virtually all bananas traded internationally are of a single variety, the Cavendish, the genetic roots of which lie in India. Three years ago, New Scientist revealed that the world Cavendish crop was threatened by pandemics of diseases such as that caused by the black sigatoka fungus. The main hope for survival of the Cavendish lies in developing new hybrids resistant to the fungus, but this is a difficult and time-consuming task because the seedless modern fruit does not reproduce sexually and has to be bred from cuttings.

Now the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has warned that wild banana species are rapidly going extinct as Indian forests are destroyed, while many traditional farmers' varieties are also disappearing. It could take a global effort to save the bananas' gene pool.

In fact many of the genes that could save the Cavendish may already have been lost, says NeBambi Lutaladio, a plant scientist at the FAO's headquarters in Rome, Italy. One variety that contains genes that resist black sigatoka survives as a single plant in the botanical gardens of Calcutta, he says.
www.newscientist.com/article/dn9152-a-f ... nanas.html
 
Joined
Aug 19, 2003
Messages
48,805
Likes
20,851
Points
284
Location
Eblana
#19
Banana scare again. I blame the EU.

ON A PLATE, a single banana seems whimsical—yellow and sweet, contained in its own easy-to-open peel. It is a charming breakfast luxury as silly as it is delicious and ever-present. Yet when you eat a banana the flavor on your tongue has complex roots, equal parts sweetness and tragedy.

In 1950, most bananas were exported from Central America. Guatemala in particular was a key piece of a vast empire of banana plantations run by the American-owned United Fruit Company. United Fruit Company paid Guatemala’s government modest sums in exchange for land. With the land, United Fruit planted bananas and then did as it pleased. It exercised absolute control not only over what workers did but also over how and where they lived. In addition, it controlled transportation, constructing, for example, the first railway in the country, one that was designed to be as useless as possible for the people of Guatemala and as useful as possible for transporting bananas. The company’s profits were immense. In 1950, its revenues were twice the gross domestic product of the entire country of Guatemala. Yet while the United Fruit Company invested greatly in its ability to move bananas, little was invested in understanding the biology of bananas themselves.

United Fruit and the rest of the banana industry did what industries do. They figured out how to do one thing well—in this case, grow one variety of banana, the Gros Michel. Moreover, because it is difficult to get domesticated bananas to have sex (they are puritan in their proclivities, blessed with virtually no seeds), the Gros Michel was reproduced via suckers, clonally. Cuttings from the best specimens were replanted. As a result, virtually all bananas grown in Guatemala, in Latin America in general, and around the world for export were genetically identical. Identical in the way that identical human twins are identical and even a tiny bit more so. For industry, this was great. Bananas were predictable. Each was like each other. No banana was ever the wrong size, the wrong flavor, the wrong anything. ...

https://www.wired.com/2017/03/humans-made-banana-perfect-soon-itll-gone/?mbid=social_twitter
 

rynner2

Great Old One
Joined
Aug 7, 2001
Messages
55,245
Likes
8,973
Points
284
#20
Here's a remarkable fact - almost all the bananas traded world-wide are descended from bananas grown in an English stately home! :D

"Buy a banana and it will almost certainly be descended from one plant grown at an English stately home. But now we face losing one of the world's most-loved fruits.

...

The previously most popular banana was wiped out by Panama Disease in the 1950s. But now the disease is mutating and threatening the Cavendish as well... :(

Full story here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-35131751

http://forum.forteantimes.com/index.php?threads/the-best-of-british.50917/page-4#post-1560833
 

rynner2

Great Old One
Joined
Aug 7, 2001
Messages
55,245
Likes
8,973
Points
284
#30
Allow time after buying them for bananas to ripen - do not eat when they're still yellow! The skin should be speckled with brown spots, or even mostly brown, for the sweetness and flavour of the fruit to develop. :)
 
Top