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The Banana May Become Extinct

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posted on Jul, 21 2005 @ 06:16 PM
Well, at least for the Cavendish that is. I was reading through popular science and came across this article that mentioned that the Cavendish banana is on a collision course with extinction, and thought I'd post it on here for those who are interested. The Cavendish, the banana that we all know as the banana is widely consumed, the average American eating roughly 26 pounds per year, with an annual global consumption of 100 billion bananas. The problem with the banana is that it is the perfect fruit, at least from a genetic standpoint. It has been cultivated for over 15,000 years, and each and every banana (Cavendish i'm talking about in this instance) is an exact copy of all the rest. There is no genetic variation between a banana grown in Venezuela or one grown in Asia.

While this is an excellent trait for quality control, this sameness also means that if one banana is susceptible to a disease, the rest are. With travel the way it is now, desease can be easily spread. Extinction of bananas is nothing new either. In the 1960's and prior to that, the banana of choice was the 'Big Mike', and the Cavendish was completely unknown. Big Mike was bigger and by all accounts tastier than the Cavendish. However, since all Big Mike's were the same, Panama disease spread among the Big Mike variety and they all went extinct. The Cavendish was then massively cultivated to take its place because of ts similarity and resistance to Panama Disease. The same will happen with the Cavendish. There are plans to find a similar type of banana, among the hundreds of varieties that currently exist without our knowledge. Not really a conspiricy, but it might be better for business if few people knew.

So, why are they worried about the Cavendish? The Panama Disease has mutated into the Panama Race 4, and affects the Cavendish. It already wiped out entire plantations in Indonesia, Taiwan, Malaysia, Australia, and it's now spreading through Southeast Asia. Africa and Latin America are still left, but experts say that they are next. With travel, it's just a matter of time.

Many replacements are now being looked at. There is one kind for example, that is small, creamy, sweet, and intense, probably much better than any banana we have ever tried, but it's thin skin would make it undesirable for travel. The small 'Lady Fingers' are already in markets and have been for some time. However they have low yields, so they are not going to be the next Cavendish. Another kind which remains unnamed is a copy of the Gros Michel (Big Mike), however it's said to be a watered down version. The most probable candidate is the Prata Ana. It looks like the Cavendish, but is much better quality. In the article, it compares the two as you would compare Belgian Chocolate to a Hershey's Kiss. It's sweet at first bite, then becomes tart, and has a very complex flavor. So, when it finally becomes extinct, there will probably be little coverage of it. Hopefully the new fruit will taste great, since I eat bananas all the time

edit: forgot link.....and smiley face

[edit on 21-7-2005 by zhangmaster]

posted on Jul, 21 2005 @ 06:25 PM
I read this about the banana . The banana in question is still being grown at Chatsworth House in England , owned by the Cavendish family. I think its ok for a few more years.

posted on Jul, 21 2005 @ 06:38 PM
Interesting article, just read throught the whole thing. I never made the connection that this extinction would be disastrous for so many people (half a billion to be 'exact'). And yes, we shouldn't have to worry about it for a few more years. But at least there are many possibilities for replacements in case something goes wrong and we can't genetically alter the banana. As a sidenote, I've just got to mention how much I love this paragraph, almost converts me to Creationism

The banana is, after all, an ideal food. At least one imaginative creationist has seriously suggested that its near-perfect design is evidence of God's existence.

It is ergonomically shaped to fit the human hand, with a non-slip surface. It has an outward indicator of ripeness—green, yellow and black. Its disposable wrapper has a tab at one end for removal and perforated edges for easy pealing. Add the fact that the banana has a pointed end and curved shape for easy entry into the mouth, and who could argue that it was indeed an act of divine inspiration?

[edit on 21-7-2005 by zhangmaster]

posted on Jul, 21 2005 @ 08:00 PM
Drink the daiquiris now before it is too late!!!

posted on Jul, 22 2005 @ 01:57 AM
Darn! Now where am I going to get the potasium in my diet to help prevent muscle cramping? Anybody have a good website link for that info?

BTW, how many actually realize that there's more nutrition in the banana peel than there is in the banana itself?

[edit on 22-7-2005 by MidnightDStroyer]

posted on Jul, 22 2005 @ 02:26 AM
There's a solution to this problem.

Start a sealed, hydroponic banana farm in every major urban area. Save the bananas!

Seriously, if we can grow them without stripping them of the K we need from them, if we can grow them without worrying about climate and disease, and if we can grow them for low cost in urban areas, why don't we? With the price of oil going up and steady supplies fewer and farther between,, doesn't it make sense to reduce fuel consumption by moving food production into urban areas?

New York had some fabulous success with fish in a barrel, urban hatcheries should be taking off by now, feeding half a city with one city block! But instead of hearing about this stuff on television, we hear about celebrity culture.

We can solve this problem easily with current technology, along with many others, if only the fog of apathy would break, and the golden shackles were removed. Highly unlikely I'd say, given the track-record...

posted on Jul, 22 2005 @ 06:39 AM
Yeah, I'm not really sure why I haven't heard talk of sealed hydroponic farms being made, (perhaps it's because the demand is just so high that a few farms wouldn't cut it) it's a good idea, especially in cities. Instead, the effort seems to be in genetic engineering the Cavendish to be resistant to the Type 4 disease., and in finding a suitable replacement.

So, the peel is actually healtheir than the banana itself? Never knew that, but I guess that's true for other fruits as well, like the orange right? Sure, it's healthier, but there's no way I could ever eat the peel

[edit on 22-7-2005 by zhangmaster]


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