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You've been eating cloned bananas
That's because only bananas of the "Cavendish" variety are sold in stores. And while there are indeed many species in the banana genus "Musa," those species are drastically different from the "banana" in taste and texture. Fruit corporations long ago decided that it would best serve their profits to train consumers to expect all bananas to be identical.
In order to preserve their distinctive properties, Cavendish bananas are never allowed to reproduce sexually. That means they all have the exact same genetic code as the first Cavendish tree selected by United Fruit Corporation in the 1950s to replace the Gros Michael banana.
The Gros Michael banana -- another genetically identical cultivar -- was so devastated by disease that it could no longer be supplied to the global market in any quantity. Now the same disease is targeting the Cavendish variety, exposing yet again the folly and non-sustainability of monoculture.
The Unfortunate Sex Life of the Banana
The banana, however, is a freakish and fragile genetic mutant; one that has survived through the centuries due to the sustained application of selective breeding by diligent humans. Indeed, the “miraculous” banana is far from being a no-strings-attached gift from nature. Its cheerful appearance hides a fatal flaw— one that threatens its proud place in the grocery basket. The banana’s problem can be summed up in a single word: sex.
The banana plant is a hybrid, originating from the mismatched pairing of two South Asian wild plant species: Musa acuminata and Musa balbisiana. Between these two products of nature, the former produces unpalatable fruit flesh, and the latter is far too seedy for enjoyable consumption. Nonetheless, these closely related plants occasionally cross-pollinate and spawn seedlings which grow into sterile, half-breed banana plants. Some ten thousand years ago, early human experimenters noted that some of these hybridized Musa bore unexpectedly tasty, seedless fruit with an unheard-of yellowness and inexplicably amusing shape. They also proved an excellent source of carbohydrates and other important nutrients.
Despite the hybrid’s unfortunate sexual impotence, shrewd would-be agriculturalists realized that the plants could be cultivated from suckering shoots and cuttings taken from the underground stem. The genetically identical progeny produced this way remained sterile, yet the new plant could be widely propagated with human help. An intensive and prolonged process of selective breeding—aided by the variety of hybrids and occasional random genetic mutations—eventually evolved the banana into its present familiar form. Arab traders carried these new wonderfruit to Africa, and Spanish conquistadors relayed them onwards to the Americas. Thus the tasty new banana was spared from an otherwise unavoidable evolutionary dead-end.
Opinions differ on how long the Cavendish can survive the new onslaught, and on the best way to tackle the threat. This time, unfortunately, there is no obvious back-up variety waiting in the wings. So far, banana science has provided scant few approaches for improving disease resistance. One method involves the traditional techniques of selective breeding: although banana plants are clones, very occasionally they can be persuaded to produce seeds through a painstaking process of hand pollination. Only one fruit in three hundred will produce a seed, and of these seeds only one in three will have the correct chromosomal configuration to allow germination. The seeds are laboriously extracted by straining tons of mashed fruit through fine meshes. Research stations in commercial banana growing countries, such as Honduras, engage large squads of banana sex workers for such tasks, and to screen the new plant varieties for favorable characteristics.
Originally posted by seeker11
reply to post by FortAnthem
Interesting! I never knew this about bananas.
Thanks for sharing. Good to know that not EVERYTHING is a conspiracy, and I can go to sleep in peace tonight knowing that the evil bananas aren't out to get me.
Originally posted by Phage
reply to post by FortAnthem
Natural news likes to sell the products of its advertisers.
Of which there is no lack.
Daylight come an me want to go home.edit on 6/5/2011 by Phage because: (no reason given)
So you'll imagine our surprise when we saw Gros Michel bananas listed on the French Laundry's menu last week. (It looks like they've been popping up on the restaurant's menu for a while now.) We'd thought they were extinct, but at Thomas Keller's restaurant, they were puréed and served with the sorbet course. Did Keller & Co. somehow manage to resurrect the once-gone banana? We wouldn't put it past them! So we called them up and learned that their source is local fruit and vegetable supplier Cooks Company Produce, who must want to keep on tight lid on where they get these fancy-schmancy bananas — they didn't return our calls asking who grows the bananas for them. So we sniffed around a little because, honestly, we kind of wanted some for ourselves.
A 2008 posting on a banana message board (yes, there is such a thing) indicated that Gros Michels are being grown in Equador under the cultivar codename Seda. The post asserts, "These are the Gros Michels that survived the Panama Disease outbreak back in the day. We no longer export them." It goes on, "I think some of the California growers might have them ... " It seems that there are at least a few people out there with Gros Michel plants in their yards (like the person who shot the photo at right), and a 2008 article notes that growers in the Congo have been cultivating Gros Michels in small plots alongside plantains to create genetic diversity. Furthermore, a CHOWhounder mentions that Gros Michels are being used by growers to hybridize a new disease-resistant banana.
So you see, folks! They're out there! And they've even made it to the wholesale level, at least in produce-blessed San Francisco.
all species of bananas are sterile and only continue to exist today through human cultivation through a system of cloning. If it weren't for human intervention the banana would have ceased to exist almost as soon as it came into being.
The banana plant is a hybrid, originating from the mismatched pairing of two South Asian wild plant species: Musa acuminata and Musa balbisiana.
Between these two products of nature, the former produces unpalatable fruit flesh, and the latter is far too seedy for enjoyable consumption.
Nonetheless, these closely related plants occasionally cross-pollinate and spawn seedlings which grow into sterile, half-breed banana plants.
however, someone noticed their goats eating from one particular tree, and sure enough the Almond we know today was born, from that "one" tree! Currently there is only one variety that I know of that is "self-pollinating" the rest require multiple plantings in order to reproduce. .
Originally posted by Phage
reply to post by muzzleflash
I don't know of any either.
That's why I tend to ignore them and look for original sources.