We all know and love that oddly shaped yellow fruit. The banana has a special place in the fruit department, definitely distinguishing itself as one of the more unique choices in taste and in look. Bananas have always been a highly valued product to societies all over the world, and a popular trade item. According to Megan Ware, they are highly consumed (more than apples and oranges combined by Americans), produced in over 100 countries, and are extremely rich in nutrients to fight off sickness and to make you healthier. The potassium, fiber, and vitamins in these yellow guys are shown to help asthma, heart health, and diabetes.
Banana imports to the U.S and Europe are very dependent on two specific parts of the world: Central/South America and the Caribbean. India and parts of Africa are also a very large producers but keeps most of their crops for themselves. According to Jacopo Prisco, the Gros Michel Banana was the main crop up until 1965; it was THE banana. For some reason, the banana exporters choose to only use a single type of banana probably for ease and price of production. They still do today. The fruit is a monoculture. This means the mass producers use one type to farm and export, the same genetic makeup. There are other different variants of bananas however they are much less common and harder to come by. The Gros Michel was an apparently more tasty, wider, and had less shelf life. This fruit was on the shelves in Europe and America for almost 60 years, after banana sales boomed. Since every banana was in term a clone of the same type, if a disease or fungus affected the crops, it would take out all of them. This is exactly what happened. The Panama Disease destroyed banana plantations around the globe. Monoculture in the production of the fruits is definitely the causation that led to a dingle strand of fungus taking out the entire banana population.
The Gros Michel Banana
Since the disease nearly took out the banana trade in the mid 1900s, farmers began to use a new type resistant to the fungus. This is what we all enjoy today known as the Cavendish banana. Even though this type is resistant to the Panama disease, the mass produced and exported fruit are all still based on the same genes meaning a situation like this could definitely happen again. A new plague similar to the Panama disease arose in Malaysia in 1990.(Panamadisease.org) So far it has not completely decimated banana crop, only in certain areas of the world. Who knows… if this new disease spreads we could be eating a whole new type of banana in the near future.
Tropical Race 4 (similar to the Panama Disease) damage to banana crop