Credit: WIred

Humans made the banana perfect—but soon, it’ll be gone

…scientists noted that in the native range of bananas lived a great diversity. There were big ones, small ones, sweet ones, sour ones, hard ones, soft ones, bananas as dessert, and bananas—plantains, really—consumed as sustenance. In those same regions one could also find an extraordinary diversity of pathogens. But in the cultivated world of bananas, the scientists pointed out, because a single genetically identical variety of banana was planted everywhere, were any banana-attacking pathogen to arrive, it would mean trouble. Any pathogen that could attack a single banana plant, even one, would be able to kill all of them. If the banana companies had listened to these warnings, they might have planted a diversity of banana varieties or a variety that would be resistant to the most likely pathogens. But why would they? The single clone of the Gros Michel banana was the most productive anyone had ever found. Planting anything else would mean losing money.

Then the inevitable happened.

Rob Dunn in the Wired on how Panama disease, wiped out banana plantations back in the 1950‘s and is threatening to do so again.