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Will Natural Bananas Become Extinct?

It may take a global effort to save the banana -- one of the most important food crops on our planet -- from extinction. The survival of the most common kind of banana -- the Cavendish -- has been threatened by the black sigatoka fungus.

There's much concern because the genetic roots of every banana begin and end with the Cavendish, traditional varieties of bananas are disappearing as are family farms and wild banana species are evaporating as Indian forests are being devastated.

Scientists believe the biggest hope for the Cavendish is in developing new fungus-resistant hybrids, a huge problem because the seedless fruit must be bred from cuttings. And, the cost of protecting the species -- resorting to genetically modified versions of the banana -- may be harmful in its own right to all of us.

New Scientist May 13, 2006

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