From Johann Hari in The Independent:

Below the headlines about rocketing food prices and rocking governments, there lays a largely unnoticed fact: bananas are dying. The foodstuff, more heavily consumed even than rice or potatoes, has its own form of cancer. It is a fungus called Panama Disease, and it turns bananas brick-red and inedible.

There is no cure. They all die as it spreads, and it spreads quickly. Soon – in five, 10 or 30 years – the yellow creamy fruit as we know it will not exist. The story of how the banana rose and fell can be seen a strange parable about the corporations that increasingly dominate the world – and where they are leading us.

Welcome to peak banana, at least, for rich people. What much of the coverage of the latest round of coverage of Panama Disease (Black Sigatoka) ignores is that most of the world doesn't eat the bananas worst affected: the creamy yellow, sweet Cavendish bananas grown as vast monocultures for export to the West. From the American Phytopathological Society:

Although it is viewed as only a dessert or an addition to breakfast cereal in most developed countries, it is actually a very important agricultural product. After rice, wheat and milk, it is the fourth most valuable food. In export, it ranks fourth among all agricultural commodities and is the most significant of all fruits, with world trade totaling $2.5 billion annually. Yet, only 10% of the annual global output of 86 million tons enters international commerce. Much of the remaining harvest is consumed by poor subsistence farmers in tropical Africa, America and Asia.

The good news for people not eating a sweet banana, black sigatoka-resistant varieties seem like a viable substitute. The news from "Post-harvest characteristics of black Sigatoka resistant banana, cooking banana and plantain hybrids" seems to suggest that they resistant strains don't fare too badly when cooked and a minor positive is that the resistant hybrids seem to cook quicker, meaning less fuel will need to be used to prepare them. The human taste-testing does however seem quite limited.


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    yes, there has been quite a large banana debates occurring especially after the Dan Koeppel book, "Banana: The Fate of the Fruit That Changed the World"


    also may I say that bananapocalypse doesn't work as well for me as amokalypse now


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