When Monocropping takes its toll

By | January 2, 2018

There's only one species of banana sold commercially: The big Michel. This is because it's the only banana resistant to a certain plague that killed off all the other commercial species a while ago, and tasted similar enough to the other species that consumers would accept it. And since then, banana researchers have been saying that one day, the next plague will come and it will be the end of bananas as we know them.

Now that day has come. That one species of domesticated bananas are being threatened by a fungus. It looks like researchers have come up with an genetically modified banana that's resistant to the fungus, which will save the banana crop – but it will also mean that the future of commercial bananas is 100% genetically modified.

There are a few take-aways from this.
1. Never, EVER, monocrop an important commercial agricultural product worldwide. You speed off their extinction that way. Genetic diversity is important!
2. If you aren't a friend of genetically modified foods, you should stay away from bananas.

/via +Angie Oana

Panamakrankheit: In Zukunft nur noch Genbananen?
Wollen wir weiter Bananen essen, kommen wir wohl um Gentechnik nicht herum

9 thoughts on “When Monocropping takes its toll

  1. Michael-Forest M.Michael-Forest M.

    Plantains can be found in most grocery stores in the US (and are probably consumed more than the Cavendish in some Caribbean countries). They're not exactly sweet Cavendish or what most people think of when they want a banana, but they are bananas.

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  2. Sophie WrobelSophie Wrobel

    +Chris Harpner Are you sure you're fine with any GMO crop?

    I am fine with GMOs that are merely 'evolution sped up' (e.g. the banana-savior).

    However, I draw the line at ethical and ecological safety. For example: I am not fine with crops planted with the terminal gene (that gene should not contaminate non-terminal crops by cross-pollination). Nor am I fine with crops that are modified to produce dangerous insecticides (I'm a beekeeper and take personal interest in the health of my bees).

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  3. Michael-Forest M.Michael-Forest M.

    This isn't at all accurate for today. Gros Michel hasn't been a principle banana variety in decades. It's all Cavendish now. And people have been talking calamity about the new disease that's wiping out the Cavendish for years now (I think I've been reading headlines talking about how there's a new disease ravaging Cavendish crops for at least a decade)—and how we'll have no more cheap bananas in just a year or two because the damage is so severe, and yet year after year, Cavendish bananas continue to be a huge major export of a number of countries, with a relatively stable price.

    Regarding the issue of GMO foods:
    http://www.slate.com/articles/health_and_science/science/2012/09/are_gmo_foods_safe_opponents_are_skewing_the_science_to_scare_people_.html

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  4. Kristian KöhntoppKristian Köhntopp

    Bananas, all of them, are a fruit that is completely dependent on humans for millennia. They have been selected, bred, modified and adapted beyond all recognition since always and have been the most "unnatural" kind of fruit.

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  5. Chris Harpner (CSharpner)Chris Harpner (CSharpner)

    I have zero problem with genetically modified crops. There are no crops that AREN'T genetically modified either directly or indirectly by human choice of the best to breed and attributes over centuries.

    And the fact that genetic modifications can save the bananas is another good thing.

    But, I'm aware of the banana problem, but not the year in which the single remaining banana became the single one. Most importantly, for me, is it a DIFFERENT one than chakita used to sell? The reason I ask is because about 4 or 5 years ago, I started developing an allergy to bananas.

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