Bananas are at risk of contracting their own pandemic

For decades, Panama disease has reappeared in an even more severe form and could seriously threaten this yellow fruit’s production. There are solutions, but they can raise ethical concerns or time-frame issues in the process of the implementation of these solutions.

In addition to a shortage and a looming threat that the banana, one of the most sought-after fruits of the world, could be nearly eliminated. For decades, Panama disease has returned with a much more severe type that is seriously threatening production of the yellow fruits. Solutions are available, however, these could raise ethical issues or timescale concerns in the implementation

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On Martinique, a Caribbean island Martinique The authorities on Martinique are investigating the alleged use of a growth regulator that gives a greater yellow hue to bananas which are green. In fact, ethephon is authorized for pineapples however not for bananas. While this raises issues regarding transparency to the consumer, it highlights the need to be more vigilant when it comes to protecting bananas in order to ensure everyone can continue to eat the fruit for a long time. In reality, scientists are trying to come up with a solution that will ensure the safety of the most widely used kind of banana, called the Cavendish which is responsible nearly 97% of the world trade. This is because this popular healthy snack is in danger due to the resurgence in an old-fashioned disease that targets banana trees, and may cause death.

What exactly is Panama disease?

Panama disease isn’t new. It is the result of a fungus which not just attacks those roots that support banana trees but it also appears several years later, in the event that it remains within the soil. The immediate result is that the bananas turn brown, and then begin to rot. The term “fungus” was coined in the 1950s after the fungus devastated banana plantations throughout the Panama region. At the time, a different type of the fruit was widely consumed as well: that of Gros Michel. The Cavendish has since proven more resistant. But, in recent years, the disease has resurfaced in a more severe form, destroying whole banana farms across the globe.

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