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Bye Bye Bananas — the Return of Panama Disease

kdawson posted more than 6 years ago | from the where-you-gonna-get-your-potassium dept.

Earth 519

Ant sends in a disturbing report in The Scientist on an imminent threat to worldwide banana production. "The banana we eat today is not the one your grandparents ate. That one — known as the Gros Michel — was, by all accounts, bigger, tastier, and hardier than the variety we know and love, which is called the Cavendish. The unavailability of the Gros Michel is easily explained: it is virtually extinct. Introduced to our hemisphere in the late 19th century, the Gros Michel was almost immediately hit by a blight that wiped it out by 1960. The Cavendish was adopted at the last minute by the big banana companies — Chiquita and Dole — because it was resistant to that blight, a fungus known as Panama disease... [Now] Panama disease — or Fusarium wilt of banana — is back, and the Cavendish does not appear to be safe from this new strain, which appeared two decades ago in Malaysia, spread slowly at first, but is now moving at a geometrically quicker pace. There is no cure, and nearly every banana scientist says that though Panama disease has yet to hit the banana crops of Latin America, which feed our hemisphere, the question is not if this will happen, but when. Even worse, the malady has the potential to spread to dozens of other banana varieties, including African bananas, the primary source of nutrition for millions..."

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Oh noes! (-1, Offtopic)

NoobixCube (1133473) | more than 6 years ago | (#23624737)

It must be a slow news day! :O But seriously, no bananas is a bad thing... At least we'll still have banana flavoured stuff, since the flavouring almost certainly doesn't come from bananas...

Re:Oh noes! (5, Funny)

lordofthechia (598872) | more than 6 years ago | (#23624797)

Slow news day? I think any story about a major threat to our food supply to be a major one, plus it mentions "Banana Scientists"! What is there not to love?

Re:Oh noes! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23624859)

Agreed. News of this magnitude is vital to any geek, or am I the only one that likes banana splits?

(seriously tho, this is scary, I hope its possible to find a way to solve, or dodge this problem)

Re:Oh noes! (4, Insightful)

aliquis (678370) | more than 6 years ago | (#23624901)

Exactly, how does extinction / loss of a food supply / mutating desease which have earlier almost killed a whole industry become small news? I would more likely find it the biggest news this day on Slashdot, time will tell.

I guess he just don't eat bananas.

Re:Oh noes! (1)

aplusjimages (939458) | more than 6 years ago | (#23625325)

I bet news about the MTV awards gets more coverage than the banana extinction does.

Re:Oh noes! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23624997)

Yeah. Banana scientist is a title I would pay for.

But while I disagree about this being a major threat to our food supply (I think we should be fine even without bananas), I say this is an important story.

Not only does this affect a lot of huge companies like Chiquita, but it is really interesting to see that a simple plant disease that has been known for many decades hasn't still been cured and scientists dedicated to this aren't even able to quarantine it even though there is a lot of money involved.

THAT is what I got from this, though I really couldn't care much less about bananas.

Re:Oh noes! (3, Funny)

Fred_A (10934) | more than 6 years ago | (#23625299)

Slow news day? I think any story about a major threat to our food supply to be a major one, plus it mentions "Banana Scientists"! What is there not to love?
Not to mention that bananas wouldn't go extinct if they'd had a space program ! How much more technical can you get ?

Re:Oh noes! (5, Insightful)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 6 years ago | (#23625343)

Why? because this news is OVER 3 months old. I heard it on NPR "science friday" back in Late April early May! it has been covered heavily in all the earth science and microbiological journals for nearly 3 months now and yes those have covered how it's spreading even faster.

It's like Slashdot waiting until the end of the month to announce, "Mars polar lander made it to the ground and is sending pictures!"

So yes, it's a slow news day as it's a rehash of old news that has had wide coverage.

Next up, The MIR space station is going to be decommissioned, and spacelab will fall from the sky.

Look on the bright side of... (5, Funny)

zAPPzAPP (1207370) | more than 6 years ago | (#23624753)

Will this finally be the end of "Peanut Butter Jelly Time"?

Re:Look on the bright side of... (1, Funny)

c6gunner (950153) | more than 6 years ago | (#23625031)

Where the hell did you find Banana Jelly???

Re:Look on the bright side of... (1)

weetabeex (1065032) | more than 6 years ago | (#23625081)

Nop... that one will become a classic by the time the bananas get extinct. Then everyone will be teaching their sons and grandsons about "Peanut Butter Jelly Time".

Re:Look on the bright side of... (2, Interesting)

pubjames (468013) | more than 6 years ago | (#23625331)

Can someone please explain this to those of us that are not from the USA.

Re:Look on the bright side of... (4, Informative)

0100010001010011 (652467) | more than 6 years ago | (#23625349)

First hit on google [youtube.com]

Meme that went around the internet 4-5 years ago.

out of season (2)

ionix5891 (1228718) | more than 6 years ago | (#23624757)

Great we can then but locally produced bananas! oh wait nvm

Gordon Ramsay has must be loving this latest development
http://commentisfree.guardian.co.uk/open_thread/2008/05/seasonal_disorder.html [guardian.co.uk]

Re:out of season (0, Offtopic)

ionix5891 (1228718) | more than 6 years ago | (#23624761)

doh! in rush to make first post spellcheck turned off again!

BUY not but :)

Oh the humanity! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23624763)

What ever will KDawson do when he has no more bananas to shove up his ass. Oh the humanity!

monoculture is a problem (5, Interesting)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 6 years ago | (#23624769)

but it is also solved by genetic variation. the story is a little hysterical, as african varieties are also genetically different enough to resist the new cavendish-hungry fungus. not that the african varieties can't be attacked, but the emphasis is on african VARIETIES: more genetic variation means more resistance to the weakness of monoculture

Re:monoculture is a problem (5, Informative)

onion2k (203094) | more than 6 years ago | (#23624831)

The problem is that all banana plants around today are sterile. The only way to cultivate new plants is by cuttings (taking a small section of an existing plant and growing it into a big plant). Consequently there is no way to introduce new variations. If all the varieties around today become susceptible to disease then that's it, they're gone. For those of us in the west that's just one less choice in the supermarket, but there are vast swathes of the world where the banana is the staple carbohydrate source for millions of people. It'd be like the west no longer having anything to make flour for bread, and having no alternative. Anyone who thinks this isn't a huge problem is wrong.

Re:monoculture is a problem (5, Informative)

tehdaemon (753808) | more than 6 years ago | (#23624849)

They are not all quite sterile... you do get a seed for every few hundred pounds of bananas.

That said, you are essentially right. All cavendish bananas are clones, this makes them very vulnerable to disease.

T

Re:monoculture is a problem (5, Interesting)

nospam007 (722110) | more than 6 years ago | (#23625039)

That said, you are essentially right. All cavendish bananas are clones, this makes them very vulnerable to disease.

and they taste like wet paper bags. I haven't eaten a Chiquita in over 10 years, I prefer any other which at least taste like a banana. Chiquitas were only bred for looks.

Re:monoculture is a problem (5, Interesting)

BlackCreek (1004083) | more than 6 years ago | (#23625275)

And here is why I *never* *ever* buy Chiquita (new name for United Fruit Company) products: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_Fruit_Company [wikipedia.org]

I find it funny how the wikipedia article on Chiquita just mentions the name change but none of the history it was meant to hide http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chiquita_Brands_International [wikipedia.org]

At least now you slashdotters know how the expression banana republic http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Banana_republic [wikipedia.org] came to be. A republic that a criminal banana company would be capable of destroying.

I for one... (2, Funny)

mrbluze (1034940) | more than 6 years ago | (#23624909)

more genetic variation means more resistance to the weakness of monoculture
Well I for one will be the first to welcome our new superior-banana-being overlords, if they ever happen to evolve.

Re:monoculture is a problem (5, Interesting)

Sockatume (732728) | more than 6 years ago | (#23624943)

Actually, New Scientist did a story about this, maybe five years ago, which was worried about the bananas' genetic variation, but didn't have any specific threat attached. They pointed out that although the current banana plants is pretty hardy, they're cultivated by cloning, so there's very little capacity for adaptation there. I forget the details of the story, but it was something like "there may not be any bananas as we know them in 25 years". Now the threat actually exists...

Re:monoculture is a problem (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23625147)

Yes, monoculture is a HUGE problem.

At the moment I'm working in the bio/ag-tech industry and can see the same thing coming down the road in the wheat/corn/soybeans/milo industry, where big industry players have foolishly limited the gene pool in the name of profit.

The worst part about it is the fact that many of the people driving monoculture are trained scientists who, for some reason, are oblivious to its negative ramifications.

Posting as AC to avoid other, uh, negative ramifications

Re:monoculture is a problem (3, Insightful)

Albert Sandberg (315235) | more than 6 years ago | (#23624955)

And what do you think will happen when all rich countries will buy bananas from africa? This happens with all kinds of food already, this aint good news for the poor people of africa.

Re:monoculture is a problem (4, Interesting)

c6gunner (950153) | more than 6 years ago | (#23625055)

And what do you think will happen when all rich countries will buy bananas from africa?


For the most part, they (we?) won't. Most varieties of Banana's are rather small and nasty. They're not the kind of thing your average westerner is likely to enjoy.

On the other hand, assuming they can find a variety of Banana which is easy to cultivate, resistant to this disease, AND tasty, then it'll be a huge boon to their economy. It could do more good for Africa than all the foreign aid of the last three decades combined.

Re:monoculture is a problem (2, Insightful)

aproposofwhat (1019098) | more than 6 years ago | (#23625089)

Most varieties of Banana's are rather small and nasty

Yay!

The Grocers' apostrophe strikes!

Sorry - your post was otherwise insightful, but those bloody Grocer's piss me right off :P

Re:monoculture is a problem (4, Insightful)

vidarh (309115) | more than 6 years ago | (#23625183)

Go to your local African food store and ask for Plaintain. Eat it (note that Plaintains are usually cooked first). Now you see why this is not going to be a problem.

Being married to an African woman (Nigerian to be precise), I've had the misfortune of tasting Plaintain, and while I don't mind most of her food (it's usually either too bland and uniformely textured or too spicy for me, but generally edible), with Plaintain I see no redeemable qualities.

It's a very acquired taste, as a lot of African staple food, and it's certainly no replacement for the types of Banana exported to the west.

Re:monoculture is a problem (1)

Cairnarvon (901868) | more than 6 years ago | (#23624985)

How many of those are edible, and how many are tasty? The wild banana has genetic variation aplenty, but it's also disgusting.

There are many kinds of bananas (5, Interesting)

mangu (126918) | more than 6 years ago | (#23625169)

more genetic variation means more resistance to the weakness of monoculture

I live in Brazil where there are many types of bananas available. Any supermarket has at least three different types. Just off my head, I can name at least six types of Brazilian bananas: Ouro ("gold"), Prata ("silver"), d'Agua ("water"), Maçã ("apple"), Nanica ("dwarf"), da Terra ("earth").

Re:There are many kinds of bananas (5, Interesting)

beadfulthings (975812) | more than 6 years ago | (#23625233)

Somebody with points should mod your post up as "interesting." I lived in the Far East when I was a child and remember the same thing--at least three readily available bananas with different characteristics--one yellow, one that was green in color even when ripe, and one that was reddish, kind of small, and intensely sweet.

300 Species, Probably Not All Susceptible (4, Informative)

FurtiveGlancer (1274746) | more than 6 years ago | (#23624805)

According to Banana.com [banana.com] there are over 300 different species of bananas, not all edible. I'm fairly certain that not all the edible species will be susceptibe to the blight. This might actually be a good thing in the long run as different species have different flavors and textures. They may even be better for us from a nutritional perspective than the Cavendish. The growers will need to adapt if the blight can't be stopped or contained.

Re:300 Species, Probably Not All Susceptible (5, Informative)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 6 years ago | (#23625367)

And that is the key to this.

The Cavendish is actually a very inferior banana. It's simply tougher and cheap to transport compared to the other varieties. the Banana companies are panicking because they will have to change how they do business and they dont want to.

Honestly, if you can get to try some of the other bananas out there, you'll never EVER touch the bland yucky Cavendish again. The growers brought this on themselves, the same way the last blight took out the favorite that was EVEN easier to ship and transport but had the advantage of tasting way better than the current offering.

Seriously people? (5, Interesting)

Netochka (874088) | more than 6 years ago | (#23624809)

This story pops up every 6 months or so (I guess not here, but in general)... Has no one else heard about this banana scare story about 10 times before?? There's even a snopes article about it. Banana Extinction [snopes.com]

Re:Seriously people? (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23624889)

Snopes basically said the exact same thing. The cavendish bananna will be extinct. Snopes is playing semantics by saying that all bananas won't be effected, but the only one eaten by americans is the cavendish, so yes, the bananna as we know it will be extinct. Just like the bananna your grandparents knew is already extinct.

Re:Seriously people? (4, Interesting)

Richard W.M. Jones (591125) | more than 6 years ago | (#23625007)

but the only one eaten by americans is the cavendish

When I was in Bali I ate several different varieties of banana, and they were all much more tasty than the "bog-standard" Cavendish. So maybe this isn't such a bad thing after all.

Rich.

Re:Seriously people? (1)

ozbird (127571) | more than 6 years ago | (#23625319)

When I was in Bali I ate several different varieties of banana, and they were all much more tasty than the "bog-standard" Cavendish.

The variety may play a part, but I bet the bananas you ate were locally grown and picked when ripe - not green and shoved into cold storage. The fruit and veg. sold in supermarkets is selected for long shelf life - not flavour.

Read more carefully (4, Informative)

Moraelin (679338) | more than 6 years ago | (#23625013)

Snopes basically said the exact same thing. The cavendish bananna will be extinct. Snopes is playing semantics by saying that all bananas won't be effected, but the only one eaten by americans is the cavendish, so yes, the bananna as we know it will be extinct. Just like the bananna your grandparents knew is already extinct.


Read more carefully. There's more than that in there.

The fungus discussed here grows in the earth, and spreads through earth. In fact, it is a problem _because_ it's in the ground, so you can't just spray the leaves with some fungicide.

So the only way this fungus could make the jump across the ocean to Latin America is either by

A) someone bringing an infected plant and planting it in the middle of a plantation, or

B) someone bringing a sack of infected earth and dumping it in a plantation. That's it, really.

And the cultivars _are_ aware of the threat, so they:

A) don't import any plants, but only clone plants which are known to be healthy. (They actually check, yes.) And

B) don't import soil from anywhere. And apparently the countries which depend on bananas for their economy, have special customs regulations to forbid exactly that.

Just about the only realistic scenario I can think of where that jump could happen, is, basically, an act of terror or sabotage. I.e., someone deliberately bringing some infected soil and spreading it around in Latin America. It could happen, I guess, but it's hardly something that the cultivars can do much about in advance.

At any rate, that's the failure point of the "OMG, it's spreading exponentially" scare. It can spread all it want somewhere else, as long as it can't cross the ocean by itself, it's even less of a threat to the Latin American plantation than Al Qaeda deciding to crash an airplane into a plantation.

Re:Read more carefully (1)

aproposofwhat (1019098) | more than 6 years ago | (#23625097)

an act of terror or sabotage.

Terror?

I don't think you really mean that, or if you do, then you're quite wrong.

Anyway, mi plantain's fine, so fi no way!

Re:Read more carefully (4, Informative)

IkeTo (27776) | more than 6 years ago | (#23625107)

> So the only way this fungus could make the jump across the ocean to Latin America is either by

> A) someone bringing an infected plant and planting it in the middle of a plantation, or

> B) someone bringing a sack of infected earth and dumping it in a plantation. That's it, really.

I think it is much easier than that. The fungus spread by insects like aphid. All it takes is a single one left alone in a container to somehow land in anywhere close to plantation to begin the spread of the disease.

Re:Read more carefully (4, Informative)

God'sDuck (837829) | more than 6 years ago | (#23625247)

Or a bit of dirt in somebody's shoe after travelling, or on an imported potato, or...

Easier done than said.

Re:Read more carefully (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23625265)

THEY don't import soil, but I'm sure someone does.

Re:Seriously people? (5, Insightful)

forgotten_my_nick (802929) | more than 6 years ago | (#23624891)

Your correct. But the US Media is running out of things to scare the people about.

The article is less to do on bananas going extinct then rather trying to sell GM crops to the public.

Re:Seriously people? (0)

Rogerborg (306625) | more than 6 years ago | (#23624953)

Bullshit Snopes article; bananas aren't a "fruit", they're properly a form of soft gravel [answers.com] .

Re:Seriously people? (1)

JonathanBoyd (644397) | more than 6 years ago | (#23625133)

The article you linked to says nothing about 'soft gravel' and seems fairly adamant that it is a fruit.

Re:Seriously people? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23625003)

Maybe it pops up every 6 months because it's happening? They did say that the blight is hitting areas other than in the Americas. There are hundreds of other banana varieties, but if they are full of seeds or taste like turnips they probably wont be a big success with the general public.

Most people don't realize how fragile our world food supply is. We've had it good for the past 50 years but with intensive agriculture and world travel, all it would take to wipe out the world's wheat, rice, or whatever plant crop is a fungus to appear that attacks two or three varieties of the same grain.

What? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23624811)

I'm a bit dismayed over the reactions of some posters. Without sounding too much like a liberal douche, it's easy for us to laugh at a lack of bananas but what of farmers who depends on a healthy crop? Not to mention people going hungry.

Re:What? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23624879)

I, for one, do not give a rat's ass about a bunch of starving niggers who are helpless to feed themselves without whitey helping them out.

Re:What? (1)

hansraj (458504) | more than 6 years ago | (#23625157)

Yeah true. They will go bananas if something is not done!

Hmm. (4, Informative)

ledow (319597) | more than 6 years ago | (#23624829)

Single, cloned fruit, unable to reproduce except by human intervention, with identical genetic structure in virtually all examples, cloned and distributed worldwide for decades is susceptible to the same attacking fungus that attacked the previous single, cloned fruit with identical genetic structure, but which has mutated slightly (my conjecture) in order to attack it's replacement.

And all because people don't like seeds in their fruit? (I would guess this isn't true, most probably people wouldn't really care much anyway, given that the fruit has an inedible skin too and a lot of popular fruits have seeds).

It's hardly surprising, it's only "catastrophic" because we've deliberately propogated a single, genetically-identical (and I would hazard "faulty", due to it's inability to reproduce) plant over and over and over again.

Re:Hmm. (5, Informative)

Cairnarvon (901868) | more than 6 years ago | (#23624995)

One word: http://cairnarvon.rotahall.org/pics/wildbanana.jpg [rotahall.org]

There's a reason modern bananas have been bred to be seedless.

One word? (5, Funny)

RossumsChild (941873) | more than 6 years ago | (#23625043)

Technically, that was worth a thousand words.

Re:One word? (5, Funny)

tgd (2822) | more than 6 years ago | (#23625229)

Technically that was worth 18526 words, 37052 bytes, 74104 nybbles, or 296416 bits.

Re:Hmm. (2, Funny)

gbjbaanb (229885) | more than 6 years ago | (#23625313)

Yikes!

That's like those horror images you see, like the ones the dentist shows you - "clean your teeth children, or they'll look like... THIS!".

Eat your vegetables children, or you'll have to eat bananas.. like THIS!

Re:Hmm. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23625029)

*inedible* skin you say?

shit

Howzabout a forced Jurassic Park approach? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23624839)

Freeze a few seeds or DNA or whatever we need to make new bananas . . . Then kill off all the trees we have. No banana trees will mean no way for the disease to spread, and it will die off. Then thaw out the bananas we have, and start again.

There are probably about 300 things wrong with this plan.

That said, where can I get my hands on one of these tastier bananas of my forefathers?

Re:Howzabout a forced Jurassic Park approach? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23624915)

No (or few) seeds. But you could have areas cut of from the rest of the world (green houses somewhere) with the plants in.

Re:Howzabout a forced Jurassic Park approach? (1)

dreamchaser (49529) | more than 6 years ago | (#23625057)

Most fungus spores can live a long, long, LONG time without germinating. How would you propose we clean up every bit of fungus?

The answer is varied breeds rather than relying on the clone of a clone of a clone.

Will someone... (5, Funny)

draxredd (661953) | more than 6 years ago | (#23624841)

think of the monkeys !

Re:Will someone... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23624989)

You intensive clod, everyone knows Green Tree Frogs [bananaland.com.au] eat bananas..

Re:Will someone... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23625093)

think of the monkeys !
The story brings up Africa doesn't it?

Call DK (3, Funny)

cybereal (621599) | more than 6 years ago | (#23624857)

All I can think of is the cave at the beginning of the first level in Donkey Kong Country for SNES. When you enter the cave, DK sees that his banana pile is all gone and is sad.

Clearly this is a viral commercial for the next DK Country! DK Country Wii: Panama Disease Adventure!

Higher friction on the Gros Michel? (4, Funny)

DingerX (847589) | more than 6 years ago | (#23624863)

So, was granpa's banana more slippery? 'Cos that would explain their widespread use as comic devices in the pre-television era. (And, no, I never thought about asking Grandma about Granpa's banana, codenamed "Big Mike." Pervert.)

Re:Higher friction on the Gros Michel? (1)

audunr (906697) | more than 6 years ago | (#23625091)

According to an article I read this weekend, after United Fruit Company started importing bananas to the U.S. around 1900, bananas were actually so popular that there was a real danger of stepping on one if you walked down the street. Urban legend, perhaps. The article was based mainly on two books: http://www.amazon.com/Bananas-United-Fruit-Company-Shaped/dp/1841958816/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1212404832&sr=8-1 [amazon.com] and http://www.amazon.com/Banana-Fate-Fruit-Changed-World/dp/1594630380/ref=pd_bbs_sr_2?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1212404832&sr=8-2 [amazon.com]

Re:Higher friction on the Gros Michel? (4, Interesting)

ThreeGigs (239452) | more than 6 years ago | (#23625131)

So, was granpa's banana more slippery?
Actually, that's a slightly hedged 'yes'.
Grampa's banana had a thicker, more durable skin, in addition to being larger than the bananas we youngun's know so well.
The other reason it's so popular as comic relief is because it actually was a real hazard back around 1915-ish. As a 'portable' fruit, they were handy to carry anywhere, and without streetcorner trash cans, the peels got tossed on the sidewalk as often as not. And considering bananas are (and were) the most popular fruit in the US (almost twice as popular as the good ol' apple), it really was a normal hazard. The Boy Scout handbook of 1914 actually listed removing a banana peel from the sidewalk as a 'good deed', it was that common an occurence.

As a side effect though, it *did* start many cities putting trash cans on busy streets, and enacting littering laws.

Yes, we have no bananas! (2, Funny)

Arancaytar (966377) | more than 6 years ago | (#23624881)

We have no bananas today!

Re:Yes, we have no bananas! (1)

rodney dill (631059) | more than 6 years ago | (#23625249)

... bananas is Scranton, PA.

RTFA... There's actually more to it! (4, Insightful)

stormguard2099 (1177733) | more than 6 years ago | (#23624893)

I know it's against the rules but if you RTFA the interesting part isn't about the blight spreading through the bananas. As others have posted this is not something that sprang up over night, it's been coming for quite a while now.

The truly interesting part is that the banana companies in S. America still don't see this as a problem. TFA says that in their anual summaries they don't even mention this disease much less list it as a threat. I think the issue is much more about these companies' failure to act before it's too late than that nature is running its course.

Re:RTFA... There's actually more to it! (1)

thermian (1267986) | more than 6 years ago | (#23625201)

The truly interesting part is that the banana companies in S. America still don't see this as a problem. TFA says that in their anual summaries they don't even mention this disease much less list it as a threat.

What, you mean a huge company isn't making a big deal in public about a potential threat to its entire business?

Go figure...

So ... (1)

ezzthetic (976321) | more than 6 years ago | (#23624903)

this shit isn't bananas?

Re:So ... (1)

BiggerIsBetter (682164) | more than 6 years ago | (#23625033)

this shit isn't bananas?
And you are a hollaback girl?

All bananas are that similar? (1)

Waccoon (1186667) | more than 6 years ago | (#23624905)

Seriously, do they grow bananas like the Irish used to grow potatoes?

Finally we may get some variety ... (5, Interesting)

Big Jojo (50231) | more than 6 years ago | (#23624907)

Having traveled in some tropical countries, one of the things I most remember about their fruits are the sheer NUMBER of different banana varieties. No monoculture. Your average roadside stand would have half a dozen varieties, and the one a mile down the road would have a few more. Tomorrow the mix would be different. And most of them would taste a lot better than the crap that's so widely available elsewhere!

I for one will welcome our new polycultural bananalords.

There's one problem (5, Informative)

Siener (139990) | more than 6 years ago | (#23625123)

Unfortunately none of those dozens of varieties have the attributes that make the Cavendish banana by far the most successful and important fruit crop in the world:

1. Long shelf life
2. Very uniform and predictable ripening times

That is why you can get bananas cheaply, even though they might be grown thousands of miles from where they are eventually sold.

Most, if not all the other varieties are only viable crops when they are sold very close to where they were grown.

Re:Finally we may get some variety ... (1)

thermian (1267986) | more than 6 years ago | (#23625221)

Us refined westerners apparently like our banana's to be within a very small range of size, coloration and shape.

Apparently any banana that fails this test is unable to be sold, so we're forcing the restriction of types.

Or at least, the buyers who choose this stuff are. I guess there is a fear of change, if a whole shipload of banana's isn't wanted when it arrives in port, heads would roll.

What will happen to the dancing banana? (4, Funny)

antifoidulus (807088) | more than 6 years ago | (#23624921)

What other animated emoticon can I use to signal that I have an erection?

Re:What will happen to the dancing banana? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23624949)

Is that what that emoticon means? I always thought it meant that the person posting it was a jackass.

Gros Michel? (4, Funny)

lysse (516445) | more than 6 years ago | (#23624967)

Is anyone else wondering what exactly it was about this Big Michael guy that caused someone to name a large and tasty banana after him...?

someone (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23624983)

someone needs to create a bananalord and/or banana scientist tag for this. especially if we're likely to get more of these articles as the panamanian's banana genocide continues.

Yes... (1)

Ethan Allison (904983) | more than 6 years ago | (#23624987)

we have.. no.. bananas.....

overbred (1)

Gothmolly (148874) | more than 6 years ago | (#23625019)

Bananas are so overbred and 'engineered' that they have to be manually propagated, since they no longer produce seeds (taste bad). How is this sort of thing a surprise then ?

Please (1)

Yvan256 (722131) | more than 6 years ago | (#23625035)

Won't somebody think of Charlie [filmcow.com] ?

Another "Ant" submission...now to Slashdot (2)

sgant (178166) | more than 6 years ago | (#23625037)

I'm convinced that "Ant" doesn't have a job. Not only does he submit stories here, but also to Blues News EVERY day, also to VideoSift and other sites not to mention his own.

So not only does he have to go out and actually find these stories to submit to all these different sites, he has to take the time to write a submission. And I don't think he's getting compensated for it...I mean, how would he?

Would love to know the story behind "Ant".

Re:Another "Ant" submission...now to Slashdot (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23625151)

*looks at your user name*

I, good sir, am no fool!

*wink*

"Ant" is an anagram... (1)

Shturmovik (632314) | more than 6 years ago | (#23625207)

...of "Roland Piquepille".

a "banana scientist" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23625087)

I didn't know that there is a professional designation called "banana scientist". Guess I missed that field of study/major in the course catalogs at college.

WWII situation (1)

lobiusmoop (305328) | more than 6 years ago | (#23625135)

maybe sometime in the future we'll end up back in the situation of WWII rationing [wikipedia.org] where a lot of children didn't even know what a banana looked like.

Yes (-1, Redundant)

rodney dill (631059) | more than 6 years ago | (#23625145)

... we have no bananas

the last episode (1)

Fluorophore (675422) | more than 6 years ago | (#23625197)

I saw this episode of Bananas in Pyjamas. Very sad.

Alaska Science Forum (3, Informative)

v1 (525388) | more than 6 years ago | (#23625199)

The Alaska Science Forum [alaska.edu] did an article on this problem back in 1990. Unfortunately I haven't found the promised followup. This contains a lot more information than the wikipedia articles.

Basically it involves information on why the bananas are hard to breed for a better strain. (they have no seeds) The Honduras Foundation for Agricultural Research has found way of crossbreeding in wild strains to produce seeds. Looks like it's slow going, but genetic mutation is pretty much the only way to engineer in resistance to new disease, and that will require seeds, not cuttings.

I wasn't able to find any updates on the HFAR's progress. Anyone else have any luck?

How dare you.... (1)

kyriosdelis (1100427) | more than 6 years ago | (#23625203)

The banana we eat today is not the one your grandparents ate.
I believe in ID, you insensitive clod!

price hikes..... (1)

3seas (184403) | more than 6 years ago | (#23625245)

Knowing this will obviously lead to price hikes for bananas, which contains potassium that helps hold off mussel cramps caused by anti-cholesterol meds, taken by millions....

Anyway, what can I do to give cause for a price hike in my salary, so to afford all these other price hikes?

Its not a matter of inflation which is always going to happen given the game it is, but rather a matter of at which end of the inflation spectrum are you positioned at. The side they gives you a financial advantage or the larger side that gives you a disadvantage.

Maybe GM is the answer (1)

Timberwolf0122 (872207) | more than 6 years ago | (#23625329)

I would be more than happy to eat a GM banana, sure hippies might complain but they can just switch to eating flavored turnip like people in the UK did during the war.

Fruit considered dangerous (0, Flamebait)

midnighttoadstool (703941) | more than 6 years ago | (#23625357)

Fruit is really not so healthy as people have been lead to believe. It is mostly water, sugar, vit C and (some) antioxidants.

Vit C, the original reason for pushing fruit, has proven to be all hype; you only need a small amount to get all the benefit. Except in marathon runners it doesn't help colds.

Sugar is bad news: feeds bacterias and fructose uses up the bodies store of magnesium (which is bad, bad, bad). Modern fruits are large and super-sweet, nothing like what our hunter-gatherer ancestors consumed, and were also generally restricted by season. Eat a crab apple or an ornamental Chinese citrus fruit to see what natural fruit is really like. 12,000 years ago figs were almost 1/6 the size. 3 million years of hunter evolution has yet to catch up with our modern industrial diet of sugar, grains, vegetables oils and marge.

And the jury is out on antioxidants as studies are contradictory.

Bananas offer potassium, but there are healthier ways to get that.

Keep to the semi-sweet fruits, such as cranberries, grapefruit, strawberries, blueberries etc

Yes, we have no bananas (3, Funny)

jollyreaper (513215) | more than 6 years ago | (#23625371)

But I've got a lovely bunch of coconuts....
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