Banana: R.I.P.

They're in trouble. Can biotechnology save the fruit?

Dan Koeppel
May 29, 2008
The linkurl:banana; we eat today is not the one your grandparents ate. That one - known as the Gros Michel - was, by all accounts, bigger, tastier, and hardier than the variety we know and love, which is called the Cavendish. The unavailability of the Gros Michel is easily explained: it is virtually extinct.Introduced to our hemisphere in the late 19th century, the Gros Michel was almost immediately hit by a blight that wiped it out by 1960. The Cavendish was adopted at the last minute by the big banana companies - Chiquita and Dole - because it was resistant to that blight, a fungus known as linkurl:Panama; disease. For the past fifty years, all has been quiet in the banana world. Until now.
__Panama disease in Hawaii__
__Photo: Scot Nelson__
Panama disease - or linkurl:__Fusarium__; wilt of banana - is back, and the Cavendish does not appear to be...
__Transgenic plants in field, Uganda__
__Photo: Andrew Kiggundu__
__Transgenic banana plantlet in Belgian lab__
__Photo: Dan Koeppel__