Banana disease is a symptom of greater ills
Published 24/02/2016 | 02:30
Bananas are one of the most popular snack foods available. They are tasty, full of healthy vitamins and minerals and arrive conveniently self-packed in their own bio degradable wrapping.
Their benefits are numerous and we are told they are good for our blood pressure, heart health and eyesight; they speed up brain function and are reputed to help prevent diabetes and cancer.
Athletes such as cyclists love them as they are easy to carry and deliver an energy boost during competition. It is even claimed that it was the banana, not the apple that was the "forbidden fruit" that Eve offered Adam which perhaps proves the seductive powers of Eve or the banana or both!
Whatever your thoughts are about the Garden of Eden, the banana seems an excellent addition to any diet but like so many other plants, it is now under threat from yet another fungal disease.
Hardly a day seems to pass without reading about some new plague or other. We have had scares about the future of many of our common tree species with the most recent, Chalara fraxinea, threatening our native ash.
The movement of plants worldwide has meant that it scarcely matters where a fungal mutation that can kill a particular plant species appears. The globalisation of trade has ensured that disease will spread rapidly, despite the best efforts of port authorities and others.
We only have to look back at the infamous Irish potato famine of the 1840s to see the catastrophes that can occur when we rely on one single species as a food.
There are of course plenty of alternatives to the banana but few are as popular and as affordable. Until the 1960s the most widely grown variety was the 'Gros Michel' which was wiped out by what was known as the PanamaDisease. The banana industry was then in deep crisis and a new alternative had to be found. They began growing a cultivar called 'Cavendish' which was considered to produce a slightly inferior fruit but was immune to the disease.