Bananapocalypse is here. Enjoy your bananas, because they may not be around much
longer, at least not the type we’re used to in the US...
“A fungus that has wreaked havoc on banana plantations in the Eastern Hemisphere has, despite years of preventative efforts, arrived in the Americas.
“The Colombian agriculture and livestock authority confirmed on Thursday that laboratory tests have positively identified the presence of so-called Panama disease Tropical Race 4 on banana farms in the Caribbean coastal region. The announcement was accompanied by a declaration of a national state of emergency.
“The discovery of the fungus represents a potential impending disaster for bananas as both a food source and an export commodity...Although bananas produced in infected soil are not unsafe for humans, infected plants eventually stop bearing fruit.
“First identified...in 1990, the destructive fungus remained long confined to Southeast Asia and Australia, until...2013. Experts feared an eventual appearance in Latin America, the epicenter of the global banana export industry.
“‘Once you see it, it is too late, and it has likely already spread outside that zone without recognition...’
“No known fungicide or biocontrol measure has proven effective against TR4...Banana agriculture is itself partly to blame for the potential of the fungus to spread. Commercial plantations grow almost exclusively one clonal variety, called the Cavendish; these plants’ identical genetics mean they are also identically susceptible to disease...
“For millions...bananas are a fundamental source of nutrition...Latin America depends on bananas not only as a food source but also as a primary economic resource. The region contains four of the top five producers of bananas for the export market...The proliferation of TR4 in South and Central America could cause widespread economic distress.”