About four million tons of bananas are imported into the EU each year. A fungal disease is now threatening banana plantations, and plant breeders have not yet succeeded in developing resistant cultivars. Many hope that genetic engineering can offer a solution. At this point, such projects are still only in the greenhouse.
Monocultures offer the perfect conditions for the spreading of pests and diseases. In this respect, bananas are no different from any other crop.
Back in the 50s, the most common banana variety, Gros Michel, was completely wiped-out by what was known as Panama disease. This disease was caused by the fungus Fusarium oxysporum, also called fusarium wilt. Gros Michel was replaced by a resistant southern Chinese variety called Cavendish. Continue reading