In a startling new report released today, April 5, 2014 in the British newspaper The Independent, and confirmed by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), the entire worlds banana crops are on the verge of being destroyed by a new fungus for which there is no cure.
According to the article published in The Independent, "A United Nations agency told The Independent that the spread of TR4 represents an expanded threat to global banana production. Experts said there is a risk that the fungus, for which there is currently no effective treatment, has also already made the leap to the world’s most important banana growing areas in Latin America, where the disease threatens to destroy vast plantations of the Cavendish variety. The variety accounts for 95 per cent of the bananas shipped to export markets including the United Kingdom, in a trade worth £5.4bn."
This fungus called Panama Disease Tropical Race 4 (TR4), is a soil based fungus with a lifespan of 30 years and can be spread with the ultimate of ease, including on the soles of shoes. With bananas being the most valuable food crop in the world, if this fungus makes its way to the South American countries where most of the worlds banana crops are located, it can be devastating not just to the worlds economy but to human life as well. Fact: bananas are one of the most important food staples in poor and developing countries.
Professor Rony Swennen, a leading banana expert based at Leuven University in Belgium, said: “If [TR4] is in Latin America, it is going to be a disaster, whatever the multinationals do. Teams of workers move across different countries. The risk is it is going to spread like a bush fire.”
A world without bananas? Yes, it is now a very real possibility!
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