The fruit world may be facing a major change within the next five to 10 years, according to Smithsonian. A disease has hit the variety of bananas that we eat, called the Cavendish, which could possibly lead to its extinction.
The disease affecting the Cavendish is a newer strain of the Fusarium wilt fungus that affected the Gros Michel banana crop back in the 1950’s. The depletion of the Gros Michel led to us switching over to eating the Cavendish. This strain of the fungus affecting our bananas now is the Panama disease Tropical Race Four. It starts by yellowing the banana plants’ leaves and then browns them, drying them out. Tropical Race Four enters the plants’ roots and continues to spread, entering the vascular tissue, according to Bloomberg.
The disease is not harmful to humans, though it is easily spread by them. It can be spread through dirt stuck on shoes, tires on trucks, shipping containers, or other equipment. It’s also spread through rain, floods and run-off water.
So far, the fungus has made its way to banana crops in Asia, Africa and Australia. This fungus has not reached the Americas or western Africa yet. The possible extinction is a huge concern for the banana industry. Even though this happened before to the Gros Michel, there is no alternative for the Cavendish, making this situation different.
Dan Koeppel, author of Banana: The Fate of the Fruit That Changed the World, expressed, “As of now there is no cure, and when it comes it will go fast and it will go very devastatingly. [It] will probably wipe out the entire banana crop, unless something is done about it, unless some kind of cure is found or unless we diversify our banana crop before that.” Researchers are trying to find a way to save the Cavendish, though there might not be enough time, according to Smithsonian.
Only time will tell if we may be losing one of our favorite fruits.