Scientists Warn Bananas Could Go Extinct As Disease Hits World’s Most Popular Fruit

Bananas are one of the most delicious fruits on the planet — not to mention the most consumed around the world. With over 100 billion bananas eaten around the world every single year, it would be a huge loss if they no longer existed. However, scientists are warning that with disease hitting the plants, that’s a very real possibility.

Cavendish bananas account for nearly half of those eaten.

Roughly 47% of bananas on our supermarket shelves are the Cavendish variety, and it’s been having a really tough time lately.

A soil-born fungus known as Panama disease is affecting crops of Cavendish bananas in Asia, Africa, Australia, Central America, and the Middle East.

The condition, also known as banana wilt, might not seem like such a huge deal, but it can be “devastating” for bananas since it restricts the amount of water the banana plant can take from the soil and also destroys its vascular system.

Banana wilt has already destroyed another variety of banana called the Gros Michel.

Queensland University of Technology professor James Dale says that the Gros Michel was “The main export banana in the first half of last century.”

However, by the 1950s, the crop was destroyed around the world and farmers had to look for a new variety. The Cavendish was able to resist the T1 strain of banana wilt and became the most popular type.

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We have about 10 years before Panama disease takes over the Cavendish banana.

According to scientists, the T4 strain of the disease is a slow-mover which means that we have about a decade before the Cavendish banana is wiped out for good.

“I’d say right now, nobody is even close to solving the problem,” explained journalist Dan Koeppel, author of “Banana: The Fate of the Fruit That Changed the World” to Insider in 2017. “The answer is going to be the end of monoculture. The answer is variety.” Here’s hoping we can do something soon!

Jennifer Still is a writer and editor with more than 10 years of experience. The managing editor of Bolde, she has bylines in Vanity Fair, Business Insider, The New York Times, Glamour, Bon Appetit, and many more. You can follow her on Twitter @jenniferlstill