Yes, We Have No Bananas!

Bad news, you monkeys! The banana is going extinct. A plantainless dystopia awaits where banana bread beer goes depressingly unmanufcatured and the banana hammock becomes the zucchini sling.

What’s the problem? Through years of inbreeding, the banana’s nethers have completely withered, making it impossible to grow one without taking cuttings. The banana’s genetic base has collapsed, making it impossible for the plant to produce sexually. This inbreeding has also made the banan highly susceptible to the black sigatoka fungus, to the point where the farmed banana may die out in a global epidemic.

Worse yet, in the dark jungles of India where the wild bananas grow, massive foresting is driving the species to extinction. And New Scientist warns “it could take a massive global effort to save the banana.”

What’s interesting about news like this is that the banana is a good example of the advantages of genetically modifying foods. In this case, gene splicing may be the only way to guarantee cold golden wedges in your cornflakes in the morning. Unfortunately, many of the wild banana plants with the genes that could make the consumer banana healthy and disease-impervious again have already been lost. For example, one variety that contains genes that resist black sigatoka survives as a single plant in the botanical gardens of Calcutta.

A Future With No Bananas? [New Scientist]