Food - Drink
The Banana You're Most Familiar With Could Become Extinct: Here's Why
When you’re buying bananas, you might notice that there isn’t a lot of variety compared to other fruits, as 99% of bananas are of the same kind, the Cavendish. There are some advantages to farming and cultivating one type of banana, but one particular disease can wipe out this fruit — a fungus called TR4, or Panama disease.
Scientists believe TR4 originated in Southeast Asia in the ‘90s and began spreading, reaching Colombia in 2019. Since Latin America and the Caribbean produce about 75% of bananas eaten worldwide, TR4’s arrival in Colombia is a big concern, as it spreads easily and is difficult to kill; an earlier strain even wiped out the Gros Michel, the Cavendish’s predecessor.
Rigorous biosecurity measures have been implemented to prevent the spread of TR4, costing one Colombian farm over $5 million since 2019, yet all it takes is one speck of infected dirt for the disease to spread. Researchers are working hard to breed disease-resistant varieties of bananas, but the process is long and complicated, so all we can do is hope for the best.