Your most popular banana facing extinction as scientists race to save it.
It’s called the Cavendish.
And it’s the banana most of us eat.
It accounts for 47 per cent of all global banana production.
But a fungal disease – Panama – has been attacking banana plantations in Australia, southeast Asia and parts of Africa and the Middle East.
So now the fear is it could spread to the banana heartlands of the world in Latin America.
And traditional fungicides are unable to prevent the spread of the deadly Panama disease.
The Panama fungus can live undetected in the soil for decades.
It enters banana plants through their roots.
And spreads to the water and the and nutrient-conducting tissue within.
This results in eventually starving the plant of nourishment.
Your Most Popular Banana Facing Extinction
So two to nine months after the Cavendish plant is infected it dies.
And the soil it grew in is riddled with fungus, making it useless for growing bananas.
Furthermore, breeding a new Cavendish variety is not possible – banana crops are cloned and not bred.
So in order to save the Cavendish banana scientists will have resort to using gene-editing.
And that will be a major problem.
Increasingly consumers are opposing food that is genetically modified.
Nevertheless, field trials of the genetically engineered Cavendish banana are starting this year.
They will happen in central America, the Philippines and Turkey.
There are more than 1,000 different varieties of bananas in the world.
But the Cavendish – named after a British nobleman – accounts for almost 50 per cent of all global production.
And that amounts to 50 million tonnes or 99 per cent of all the global banana exports.
And those exports have a value of $8 billion (U.S.) a year.
If the Cavendish banana disappears the consequences will be devastating for all of us; consumers, planters and businesses.