Bananas are the most-sold item at most grocery stores and, notably, Wal-Mart.
Bananas also have the highest standard deviation in terms of predicting if a given (known) consumer will purchase bananas in a given store run. (At least as compared to other food products and consumables.) When predicting a consumer's shop, it's generally pretty easy to make a highly educated guess about their purchasing activity and, thus, to project volumes for products. But bananas defy that wisdom, except that people in aggregate buy a lot of them. Someone who buys bananas reliably every week for months will randomly stop for months, and then start again, for no perceivable rhyme or reason. Bananas aren't seasonal purchases like berries or corn or other fruits or vegetables. Bananas also tend to be a high purchase at gas stations and convenience stores.
Bananas have to be effectively "tricked" into continuing to ripen after being prematurely picked and then refrigerated for transit. So there are banana ripening centers that pump ethylene through a chilled chamber to get them to ripen.
Where can I find and read more things like this?
Tip: if you want to ripen your fruit or e.g. avocados faster, put them in a bag with a fruit that is ripe because the ripe fruit gives off a lot of ethylene which will ripen the others.
Fun fact, though - bananas ARE berries :)
Thanks for sharing this. I've read a few things like this one, regarding "ripening centers" for various fruits, including apples and strawberries.
I am not sure that a banana stays "healthy" after going through a toxic gas - well, apparently the normal concentrations are not toxic to humans : "Ethylene has been found not harmful or toxic to humans in the concentrations found in ripening rooms (100-150 ppm)."
Or maybe IT IS toxic after all? . This is where a national medical/certification/food system should step in and clarify things for good.
In which country? The US? This can't be globally true..
If you travel in the tropics, do try out local varieties. It is an amazing fruit (?).
That said, I saw huge fields of farmed trees literally everywhere there (as well as in VN). I don't think they are in any real danger of disappearing like these articles say. It is very sensationalist news.
The ones I like best are the very small "good smelling bananas" (ກ້ວຍຫອມ).
Maybe you picked a plantain instead a banana. They are big and showy, but unedible unless cooked (or almost rotten)
OH, and also I assume there's a bit of a taste difference with the bananas we're used to because they weren't dosed in Ethlyene to hasten the ripening. (In western countries the grocery warehouse has a room for spraying bananas in ethlyene before delivering to the grocery stores)
In fact I don't think I've ever seen a second variety since i've started looking... (probably in the wrong markets, but that's kind of my point)
 worth it just for being the polar opposite of a sterile, well ordered, monoculture of a supermarket. It's fab.
(Edit: I didn't read your comment properly so my reply isn't so relevant)
"I can't see the problem with my own eyes so I don't think there's a problem." is exactly the sort of thinking that leads to climate denial and anti-vaxx nonsense. Unless you've spent a lot of time and effort understanding the banana industry you simply aren't qualified to make that judgement.
If you have a quality rebuttal of this point that would be a second issue, but comparing this human being who took the time to respond to you with a logically consistent argument an anti-vaxxer just because you can't see it right now is not healthy discourse.
Of course I'm no expert, but this whole banana disappearance story has been going on for many years, yet we still have bananas. There is not even close to a shortage of bananas. It reminds me of the Helium is running out stories.
Let me also remind you that the story is talking about a specific strain and my comment was clearly not about that strain.
I could also say... unless you've driven 8500km all over Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos and seen first hand the millions of banana trees, your thinking might be constrained to some one sitting behind a keyboard.
IANABE (I am not a banana expert) but I know that no one suggested there is a shortage right now. What's threatened is the world's supply of Cavendish bananas which is what every Western country imports. Prior to that everyone ate Gros Michel bananas, but practically all plantations growing that particular crop were wiped out in the space of 30 years by Panama Disease. Cavendish was the response - it was Panama Disease resistant, but about 15 years ago the disease started attacking Cavendish crops. The concern is that this means we're a decade or two away from losing Cavendish and we don't have a suitable replacement (because, as people have said in this thread, other bananas aren't as tasty to Western palettes).
To post "Nah, there's no problem" shows you don't quite understand that problem, and to cite that you've seen a few big banana plantations as evidence that the problem isn't a real one just compounds the issue.
If Panama Disease mutates to attack the plantations you saw they could all be gone in a decade. That's how virulent the disease is. It is a problem.
Actually, quite a few Western countries export them. And quite a few Western countries import (or domestically grow and consume) other varieties, though typically in smaller quantities.
That is your opinion. I've been lucky enough to taste plenty of other banana strains and there are definitely better banana's than Cavendish. The smaller ones that you generally get in this region, that are really ugly on the outside, taste so much better.
> you've seen a few big banana plantations
More than 'a few'... literally 3 whole countries worth. There is absolutely no shortage of trees and farms. Just to give you an idea of how much I've seen and I didn't even tag all of it... https://imgur.com/a/olSoTXe
I'm not saying that this disease isn't a problem, but I have hard time believing it is a catastrophic problem for all bananas.
If you're going to go into big problems, I'd say that African Swine flu is a much larger issue for this region. I drove through countless 'checkpoints' all over northern VN/Laos where they sprayed down my motorbike wheels with some unknown chemicals. There are literally signs everywhere talking about the issue. Millions of swine have been slaughtered. Usually you see pigs running around freely on the roads, but once you get to a certain point in northern vn, you stop seeing them entirely.
"Although thousands of banana varieties grow around the world, only a few have the precise characteristics necessary to withstand the rigors of large-scale commercial cultivation, long-distance transport, and international marketing. A banana with those characteristics, a taste and appearance similar to the beloved Cavendish, and resistance to TR4 does not exist."
It's not my opinion. It's the opinion of every banana industry analyst who says losing the Cavendish would be the end of the banana export industry, which is pretty much all of them. There's a reason why we get articles catastrophising about the impact of Panama Disease posted to HN on a semi-regular basis.
What a great title for a business card. Of course they have every motivation to say that the sky is falling. It attracts attention, doesn't it?
> There's a reason why we get articles catastrophising about the impact of Panama Disease posted to HN on a semi-regular basis.
I'm sure there is a reason, but it may not be what you think it is.
It's a catastrophic problem for the existing commercial banana industry, not for “all bananas”.
You mean in the US or elsewhere? The US is only 25% of the total market. While a big number, there are far larger consumers of bananas. 'it is important to note that only 15 percent of banana production is traded in the international market'.
It sounds like people might have to learn to eat another type of banana. It has already happened when the market switched from Gros Michael to Cavendish. Given that there is 1000 varieties of bananas out there, that is a marketing problem, not a catastrophic problem.
I mean the existing commercial banana industry dependent on the present scale of output and sales to the developed world.
> The US is only 25% of the total market.
Not talking about just the US.
> it is important to note that only 15 percent of banana production is traded in the international market'.
And, e.g., the domestic production and consumption of East African bananas (a sizable share of the global total production) isn't part of the international commercial trade at issue (and isn't affected by losing the Cavendish since East African bananas are an entirely different set of varieties.)
> It sounds like people might have to learn to eat another type of banana. It has already happened when the market switched from Gros Michael to Cavendish.
Gros Michel and the cultivars Ithe Cavendish subgroup are quite similar in taste and commercial properties (Gros Michel is a bit thicker skinned and more transport hardy than most Cavendish varieties as I understand.) Which is why it's what the industry largely turned to when Gross Michel became nonviable.
Cavendish was the low hanging fruit of alternative bananas.
> Given that there is 1000 varieties of bananas out there, that is a marketing problem, not a catastrophic problem.
There's far fewer that are plausible replacements for Cavendish in large scale trade even before considering whether they are Panama disease resistant and other production and transport features. Cooking bananas that would, were they traded alongside existing commercial varieties, compete more with plantains than Cavendish bananas aren't a plausible replacement.
There is no commercially exploitable banana for export that we know of yet.
Going from Gros Michel to Cavendish required rethinking how we farm, harvest, ship, ripen, sell bananas. Cavendish could simply not be shipped like Gros Michel before.
You said yourself that Cavendish is a "boring" banana. This might be true. But all the great, tasty, small bananas you are talking about cannot be shipped anywhere by the means we know of today. That is, every market outside of the banana growing regions cannot have these, they will be mush, rotten or inedible once they reach the shelves.
Apart from that, I agree, we will (hopefully) eventually find a replacement and adjust our methods and taste. I'm all open for new banana tastes. But the problem is real, the economy as a system (farmers, logistics, consumer) does not know of an alternative so far. Even if you think different.
But I guess you could be very rich if you have an alternative ready and are willing to transport it and selling it in EU/US/Canada.
I'm fairly sure I've seen labelled-as-imported dwarf red and apple bananas in California, but certainly the transport properties of most plausible replacements by taste are inferior to Cavendish (and I don't even know if any of them are Panama disease resistant, and if they aren't, they aren't plausible replacements.)
Since TR4 has reportedly been present in Southeast Asia for quite a while, sighting a ton of TR4-vulnerable bananas growing there would be evidence that the story is sensationalized.
But if the bananas you saw are TR4-resistant, your anecdote isn't really relevant at all.
In that case, or if you don't know which case it is, you really can't justifiably say that the article is sensationalized.
Right now you are discarding his (albeit hostile phrasing) argument by using the exact argument he was criticizing.
"Years" is a really short time. Same as with climate deniers that can't abstract away their perception of time long enough (pun unintentional, but noted) to understand that "urgent" could mean 5 years, in the scope of a hundred years or more.
To put it in perspective it's like telling someone that if they don't break or turn their car they will go off the road, and they after a second discard it as false since they're still on the road. But they're still 1 second closer to crashing.
I'm not informed on the subject, but your logic is flawed.
> Although thousands of banana varieties grow around the world, only a few have the precise characteristics necessary to withstand the rigors of large-scale commercial cultivation, long-distance transport, and international marketing. A banana with those characteristics, a taste and appearance similar to the beloved Cavendish, and resistance to TR4 does not exist.
When people say it's insipid do they just mean compared to other bananas (in which case I agree)? Are they not eating them ripe or something? Or am I just too easy to please fruit-wise?
What was the question again?
You might want to place those Cavendish ones on the oven with a little of butter, or to fry them. They are unbeatable on that format, but are pretty bland otherwise.
I don't have a problem with them. But they way they are grown is highly hit or miss. Yes, Cavendishes may all look similar. But the worst and best tasting banana I've ever had was in highschool and from a local grocer.
I don't think most people have had a proper ripe cavendish. They get what the supermarket has told them is a ripe cavendish. And this yellow, starchy, pulp really is a banana. So they assume the Cavendish is not a good tasting banana.
I would like the choice.
But they're grown nearby and can ripen very quickly. When they need to be transported between continents, I think that's what Cavendish is best-suited for.
Also to be honest, the difference in taste between the different types is a lot less than between types of apples or types of greens, in my opinion. The smaller ones can be sweeter and have more banana flavor... but it's not a huge difference.
Or even, "although people would like, someone's trying to maximize profit margins."
And that second one is notably is taken within the scope of that quarter, or the next few years that they expect to work there, or even the next few decades before they expect to retire. Which often conflicts with longer-term sustainability problems like retained biodiversity.
It’s a pretty unique fruit and it’s economy has tumbled in the past already got these very reasons.
I do remember eating bananas where the seeds where all about 0.3 mm to 0.5 mm.
If you see a viable seed it's going to be quite large, looking like 5-10 mm each:
Can't this be solved by improving the transportation of the less durable varieties?
The question is whether there is anything that can be readily made commercially viable and used for the role that we use the Cavendish now.
Most of the rest of bananas out there are not very much like the Cavendish we're used to (though some of the small ones are yummier-- if they could be made more hardy it would be worth getting used to eating tiny bananas ;).
Granny Smith apples are for baking, McIntosh apples are for eating fresh, Red Delicious apples are for decoration, and the rest serve no purpose.
Russet potatoes are for baking, stew, and fries. Purple potatoes are for frying up with steak. The rest serve no purpose.
It's different with bananas. Cavendish is good. Maybe the Gros Michel is good too, but I wouldn't know. The rest are variations of sour, mushy, slimy, and too tiny. It's also a problem of telling when a banana is ripe. It is easy to memorize exactly how a single variety of banana ripens. If there are more varieties, they get mixed up and eaten at the wrong time.
(I would assume likewise with bananas as well, but I don't have the experience to know myself.)
Anyway: if you haven't tried it in a while, branch out. You might really enjoy and appreciate what you've been missing out on.
Russet potatoes are the best for stew. The others have off flavors or don't soften as nicely.
I have tried many types of cheese. I eliminated all except mozzarella and mild cheddar.
I have tried every exotic fruit in the store except durian. I ended up liking jackfruit, dragonfruit, rambutan, lychee, longan, and loquat.
The point of trying new foods is to find the best, not to pretend that they are all equally delicious.
> Banana agriculture is itself partly to blame for the potential of the fungus to spread. Commercial plantations grow almost exclusively one clonal variety, called the Cavendish; these plants’ identical genetics mean they are also identically susceptible to disease.
and then very shortly after saying:
> ... residents of banana-producing nations rely on a multitude of local varieties, including plantains, for their food security. Panama disease TR4 has a notoriously broad host range, meaning it threatens nearly all of these varieties to some degree.
Residents of banana-producing countries eat more varieties of bananas (locally produced), but even those bananas are at risk.
The Cavendishes have all been grown in exclusion zones for years, where you have to scrub yourself down to get in.
If I was in your shoes, I might wait for Big Mikes to be in season, then order the banana variety pack (and ask that they include a Big Mike). You could pre-order a large box (10-14lbs) of Big Mikes, but that seems like a lot to buy at once.
I've never heard of these folks before today, but now I kind of want to throw a fruit tasting party.
This is the problem right here. The lack of science education. A banana modified in a lab and one that is bred through selective breeding are both "GMO", it's just that one is done in a targeted manner and the other relies on random luck in the mutations.
If people weren't so afraid of science this problem would already be solved.
The two main producers refuse to even consider the "GMO" bananas because they are afraid they won't sell. If they would just take up the cause, they could put enough money behind this to solve the problem in a year.
two primary reasons: hubris and greed.
The hubris to think we know which varietals are the best and will continue to be the best. We may go all in on one species or variant and then turns out an unknown bacteria we have previously no clue about wipes out all of them. You never know, you need variety. Bacteria outnumber us all.
number two: greed. You worried about tech being consolidated into the big 5? how about this scientific research? you want our food, something we actually depend on, to be consolidated into 2-3 chemical companies? I don't.
Smaller reasons include: the power of being able to still survive on pure nature's means, and the freedom to do so. We don't realize it, but these things we do out here in the more advanced nations greatly impact the developing world, where a large portion of the world's population exists.
If they don't grow GMO Cavendish, they will pick some other variety and grow that everywhere, like they did after the Gros Michel went under. GMO doesn't seem to be a prerequisite for monoculture at all.
> the power of being able to still survive on pure nature's means
We haven't been able to do that since the dawn of agriculture. If modern agriculture disappeared tomorrow, the Cavendish plantations would not resemble Cavendish plantations very long, Panama disease or not.
The only problem I have with a "GMO Cavendish" is that it would likely be patented, which could create a company with some extraordinarily powerful IP, which is very dangerous. But that's a problem with the law, not GMOs per se.
GMO is tangentially related but few of the biggest overreaches in agricultural IP are directly tied to them.
As far as genetic modification in the lab being indistinguishable from genetic modification the way farmers have always done it (cross-breeding), here's the difference, in a nutshell: farmers have no method for cross-breeding a potato with a jellyfish (or adding genes from bacteria, or whatever). That is, the lab technique permits technicians to effectively create new species.
Now I'm OK (in principle) with new species appearing on the shelves; but I don't want to eat them myself, until they have been tested with the same rigour as if they were novel medicines. My choice, you see. If the GMO products are smuggled onto the shelves in disguise, then what happened to my choice?
Not really. The difference is that selective breeding takes a lot of time and for the species that we eat today we've had hundreds to thousands of years to observe if it harms us or not.
When new drugs or foods get approved for consumption, the tests being made are for how our body affect the eaten food, and the assessment being made is for how safe acute short term exposure is.
But we are not doing long term studies on safety, because those are super expensive. We basically don't know what happens with chronic exposure over decades. And plants in particular have toxins, as a natural defense against pests, and most of those toxins are harmless to humans, or removed via cooking (like what happens with legumes), however some toxins can have an effect on mammals and we won't notice it until we've had decades to consume that plant and maybe come up with cooking methods to deal with it.
Personally I'm not interested in being a lab rat.
> The lack of science education.
I think this goes on in both camps ;-)
It seems a little silly to outright dismiss GMO foods as long as they do not deviate too far from their parents
> We know what chemical structures are deeply harmful to the body and what are digestible
Implying that nutrition is by and large a solved problem instead of a hugely moving target that is upended every ten years for knowledge of a completely different direction is very incorrect and harms the rest of that you are saying by proximity. Nutrition is not solved. We know what things will kill you for sure (and generally how fast), but things that kill you very slowly or that might very subtly be good for you are hard to measure and therefore not well documented.
No we don't, we only really start looking at new kinds of toxins when they start affecting us.
GMO have one or many gene flipped, as a result many things are affected at once but genetic engineers/companies will look at optimising what interests them and ignoring the rest of the effect for the sake of cost cutting/simplification/shorter time to market. (These things have affected civil engineering companies too, which make your bridges dangerous but bridges are much simpler to reason compared to a multicellular organism like plants and bridges don't reproduce or evolve on their own. The seeds will not be picked by intercontinental birds and dropped somewhere where they start displacing local varieties or evolve into something dangerous (toxic?) for humans. While bridges have small life, genetic modification can survive for a very long time.
Some changes induced by GMO process will take long time test.
By that time it would have spread to billions of humans, thanks to modern industrial process and globalization.
Heck, we can't reliably alter genes in humans which makes them taller then how can you be sure of GMO crops?
Genetic engineers look at correlations in genes then they try to flip some of them randomly and if they observe positive change in the feature they are optimizing, they call it success if it doesn't produce immediate negative effects.
GMO variety also isn't sterile, so it might evolve into something dangerous. Why it shouldn't? The genetic history of the plant which stopped it from being toxic to humans, encoded in its genes has now been edited out by genetic engineers.
GMO come from flawed understanding of how genes work. Most GMO supporters claim that the nutations we are inducing through GMO process are also capable of happening in nature on its own.
Sure, but genes not just carry info of function but genetic history too that's how we remember how to fight viruses/backterias. A person who has been burned by keep their hand on flame will not try the same second time, same way a planet which has mutated in past in favour of something which made it resistant and survive in nature will select against the feature which made it survive.
GMO people think mutations happen at random, without any peeking at past mutations (genetic history) which is incorrect assumption.
Pardon my ignorance, but how is this different from GMO? Sure, it took a while to get to that particular cultivar with selective breeding, but at some point we got there and started to scale up the production. Where's the guarantee that the last few mutations before scaling up were not harmful on the very long term? It's not that they ran long experimental trials before marketing the tangelo...
Whereas with GMO we can be assured it's a very small set of edits that we can more readily assess the safety of.
It's not perfect, since the selective breeding we've been doing has been for diluting the proteins and increasing the energy per acre. And there are still plenty of concerns with various seeds we've been eating, like wheat, corn or soy, but interestingly these are also the playground for GMO research and that research hasn't been about making them safer for humans, but rather for increasing the yield, protecting patents and for reduced pesticide use ... which should raise further concerns about their safety ;-)
When I'll see GMOs meant for making consumption by humans safer, those are the GMOs I'm ready to buy into, but not until then.
> with GMO we can be assured it's a very small set of edits that we can more readily assess the safety of
I don't believe that we can readily assess their safety, because I've been interested in and studying nutrition and I know how science in this field works.
But if you know more on this subject, please provide details.
Compare to someone making a CRISPR edit to alter a Cavendish protein to the form in other bananas that people have already been consuming in quantity for hundreds of years.
Why do you assess the former probability of harm to be so much lower than the latter?
So no GMO does not equal selective breeding.
It's not "GMO" and isn't labeled as such, because it doesn't involve the same technical steps as inserting a fish gene into a tomato, or whatever, but you end up with an organism with de novo mutations that do... well, something, probably many things, and if you're lucky, something you want, that you can then use selective breeding to amplify. Voila, you've introduced a brand new, never-before-seen mutation, without any GMO.
Except it's stupid. It's an incredible amount of work, just to be able to produce something that isn't technically GMO, when you could reach in with CRISPR or whatever the new hot genetic tools are and do it much more close to exactly.
Humans have always had confidence of mastery over nature and more often than not we screw it up.
We switched the entire planet over from Gros Michel to Cavendish with basically no studies of nutritional impact or whatever, and it was fine. They're both bananas, bananas are basically similar to each other, they taste a bit different but they're fine.
Why be more afraid of a GMO Cavendish than whichever other varietal gets pulled out this time? A GMO Cavendish would be less change.
There is in fact a large, obvious population of people who are emotionally scared of GMOs. Unfortunately, that group has given anybody who question GMOs a bad name.
This kind of thing is unfortunately true for many things in life.
And ironically, if what I am saying is true, it is the grandparent who, while accusing of irrational reasoning, has not reasoned this out.
Just because it is convenient and it works well in the areas that we can measure well does not mean it is actually safe or that we should embrace it uncritically.
The sly move is to try to apply this "don't do it" principle to only GMOs (or some limited set of hot button topics that includes GMOs). This selective application is where the unreason slips in.
Frankly from your response I cannot find a reason to change my mind on this, because you have mostly avoided the subject by attacking my reasoning with your own flawed logic. I find it ironic that you are saying that people who advocate a more conservative stance on GMO are unreasoning or spouting "obvious bullshit" when what is in fact happening is that you are doing exactly what I already addressed: Being upset that this reasoning stops progress in a field you don't understand well, because it is inconvenient.
Why? Because there is something stopping the production of varietals.
Patents are stopping advancements from happening. Just like with corn, except things are worse with bananas.
That's the real problem. Not GMO or whatever other straw man. Mono-species fail in the end, and then we create new technologies to cover for it, instead of simply breeding new variants within the species - because patents and profitable monocultures.
How can the patents not have already expired? Bananas have been the same roughly all of my life, unless I'm wildly misremembering. Surely there is no way the Cavendish is still protected by patents.
But how new is it? As I've alluded (it would take a full article to really get into this), even this new cultivar is... Cavendish. And it's patented. Just like all the other Cavendish bananas that comprise the only bananas you can ever find unless you happen to live in Southeast Asia and can find them in the wild.
BTW: Bananas you remember are not the bananas your grandparents would remember. There's a long history. The monoculture of bananas is fairly recent in terms of history, but for you and I, we've only ever known Cavendish.
And bananas, because we want seedless varieties, favor cloning which favors monocultures (both directly because they're, you know, clones; through slow propagation which in turn makes scaling a variety pretty capital intensive, etc.)
Sure, they're more expensive than cavendish so i only take them when regular bananas are unavailable. But they're functionally non-cavendish bananas available in a place they aren't native.
Similarly they are expensive, and people mainly opt for the larger/cheaper Cavendish. I always thought the mini Ladyfingers are more child friendly both for size and for sweetness, but rarely see them outside of fancy fruit salads. It's still very much a mono-culture, even when there are outliers.
So yes, my black/white statement should have been more of a 90/10 fuzzy grey one.
There is very little (financial) incentive to go up against Cavendish in an attempt to compete, because anything you need to do to find a tasty cultivar with thicker skins and stable shipping/handling will continually run into Cavendish related patents in the process.
BTW: Sadly, even though the Ladyfinger bananas are distinct from Cavendish, they are equally susceptible to the same deadly plant diseases. If one disappears, so probably does the other. Our temporary diversion is back on track with the subject at hand.
Most citrus, most apple varieties, anything "seedless"
Science seeks to test new theories about the nature of reality, to improve human knowledge. It often relies on engineering to conduct experiment.
Engineering is for solving human problems at scale. Often based on scientific discovery, but not necessarily. Humans were selectively breeding food for years with no scientific theory of plant genetics.
And we kind of do not have the best track record with engineering things we can’t be sure of in the lab. Generally we do ok with tech, but bio engineering is much different.
What’s more the food industry has lied about what’s healthy for profit in the past. We have a habit of passing the buck to the next generation to cash out now.
Human avarice is enough for me to be against GMO given the plain track record (global warming, aforementioned lies by food producers, etc) of bullshit that was only found to be bullshit later.
That and I hate bananas.
Which is probably good, or we'd all probably get weird cases of allergies from strange plant mutations.
Which took a million years. But now watch out - we can do it in 4 hours. That's the difference.
I'm open too but careful regarding GMO. It's clear the agricultural practices used in the US and China and in particular by the corporate giants are totally unsustainable and exploitative, often catching farmers in unexpected dependencies to buy new seeds or fertilizer/insecticide products each year. Not to speak of the monoculture, the negative impact on overall flora and fauna, etc. Often.the GMO crops are rather sensitive to specific conditions, leading to more such monocultures and the adaptation of agricultural lands to their specific cultivation (eliminating everything else in the process).
As much as you like to think you're scientific, science should be careful and jumping on every new plant that comes from a lab (no matter how promising) is not scientific but rather each plant should be field tested for several generations. Elwr don't understand genetics well. It's simply a lie to think we know the effects - we don't know what inserting genes from one plant into another does in the long term. Specifically, CRISPR & co are very imprecise and pretty much a matter of lucky shots, i.e. they normally insert much more than the intended genes. Moreover natural processes continue, so you get those plants pollinating other non-GMO strains. It's not like a website you can shut off - you introduce something into the environment and there's no way back.
See e.g. insect apocalypse and the nightmares Monsanto and it's likes have brought to smallholder farmers across the globe (promised big harvests but the seeds are castrated so that the farmers have to buy new ones each year), or the patent (!) lawsuits against farmers that have fields adjacent to GMO crops.
I would consider myself pro GMO, but only under the right conditions. There are plenty of other ways forward than just GMO - and we should try and use each path with care, not bet just on what is easiest. Moving away from the monocultures that caused these issues to begin with - rather than to go all in on mass-monoculture of new GMO crops - is a better way forward.
The majority of the people 'afraid' of GMO are thinking of transgenics, not selective pressure. Some of the people thinking about selective breeding also have a point about loss of diversity (see corn and cutworms). You have to go all the way to the far end of the spectrum to find people like you're describing, which essentially makes it a strawman.
I've logged in just to say that this comment is so quintessentially HN, and it particularly entertains me to see these two sentences juxtaposed because of the lack of domain expertise that it belies.
There is indeed a material difference between genome engineering and breeding. In the former case, you might introduce a gene that expresses any arbitrary protein. For instance, you could introduce a gene that expresses a highly potent toxin, like ricin. That would surely be very bad! In the latter case -- when breeding for variants -- you would be hard pressed to get a castor bean to cross-breed with a banana. So the capabilities of molecular biology allow for a much wider range of possibilities than breeding, hence the importance of regulatory oversight and caution.
P.S. There has been a lot of talk recently about what's wrong with the culture on HN. I'll tell you exactly what it is: people write overly confident and flippant things far outside their areas of expertise. Many of you run websites and phone apps: you do not know much of anything about other areas. Why are you therefore writing about those topics on the internet with such feigned authority?
At this point anti-GMO == anti-science
People may have philosophical objections, but young earth creationists, climate change deniers, and anti-vaccine advocates all believe what they do primarily because of philosophical objections.
The solution is not to clone with the same dna. also not to use pesticides which kills bees and insects. Pesticide will not only kill bugs they will kill all insects a like.
“Cavendish bananas were named after William Cavendish, 6th Duke of Devonshire. Though they were not the first known banana specimens in Europe, in around 1834 Cavendish received a shipment of bananas (from Mauritius) courtesy of the chaplain of Alton Towers (then the seat of the Earls of Shrewsbury).” Source
And by the way https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/monkeys-bann... [Monkeys banned from eating bananas at Devon zoo]. I assume those were all Cavendish bananas.
"If Cavendish/dessert bananas get wiped out by some disease (e.g. Panama disease), how long would it take to cultivate a new dessert banana from wild growing options?"
P.S. For the casually curious, /r/AskScienceDiscussion is a more forgiving, less strict place to ask questions than /r//r/AskScience. It's more ask Bill Nye in a podcast than pose a perfect question to pass the scientist mod filter.
I want to try the Gros Michel. What I'm eating is relatively bland?
If you don't live in a tropical country, yes. Bananas in temperate countries taste like Styrofoam.
I don't know if this is a problem specific with the Cavendish or because the bananas aren't ripened in the plant, but in Africa and South America (and probably Southern Asia) bananas have a far more intense flavor. Same happens to guavas. Mangoes and passion fruit, however, keep the same strong flavor.
> Besides the Cavendish bananas that dominate modern supermarket shelves, residents of banana-producing nations rely on a multitude of local varieties, including plantains, for their food security. Panama disease TR4 has a notoriously broad host range, meaning it threatens nearly all of these varieties to some degree.
Unfortunately, pretty much all banana species are vulnerable. Even if Cavendish is the most-affected, replacing Cavendish with another cultivar isn't a complete solution. Other banana cultivars don't have the same properties, and breeding a replacement dessert banana that is resistant, and then spreading that cultivar (and hoping that it too doesn't fall prey) is not a trivial undertaking.
If a GMO solution can save the existing cultivars, which have established consumers, it's a better approach. Since all bananas are grown using monoculture grafting (because we long ago bred the seeds out), it's not as easy to produce new cultivars as with other fruits.
Those that could afford the $XX / lbs price would.
I'd miss em though. Nothing like frozen banana + milk blended.
> This variety was once the dominant export banana to Europe and North America, grown in Central America, but in the 1950s, Panama disease, a wilt caused by the fungus Fusarium oxysporum f.sp. cubense, wiped out vast tracts of Gros Michel plantations in Central America, though it is still grown on non-infected land throughout the region.
The song is from 1923, so likely no connection to the great banana blight, eh? Too bad, I thought so too.
I did find the following note about the song:
> In 2008, The New York Times ran an op-ed, with the title "Yes, We Will have no Bananas", regarding the outcome of fungal diseases afflicting the Cavendish Banana
So we weren't the first to make the pun/connection - great minds think alike? :) I deserved the downvotes though, I knew it when I posted the flippant comment.