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The Looming Threat to America’s Favorite Fruit

Fusarium wilt is a deadly banana disease destroying banana plantations throughout the world. As scientists race to figure out how it’s spreading so quickly to places far apart from each other — Southeast Asia, the Middle East, Australia and Southern Africa — it’s just a matter of time before the fungus hits Latin America, where the U.S. gets most of its bananas.

The fungus strain was first discovered in Taiwan 30 years ago, but the only thing major producers Chiquita, Dole and Del Monte have done is to try to create new fungus-resistant breeds, a process that takes decades to achieve, Science Line reports. Since the soil-infecting fungus is spreading too fast to breed it out, some scientists are suggesting they try genetically engineering (GE) a new fungus-resistant banana. One confounding factor is that bananas of today are sterile monocrops purposely mass produced for export, with no genetic variations to fight disease naturally.

This is truly a tale of two methods of farming. The first, traditional monocropping that robs the soil of nutrients and plants of their flavor, is a known failure all over the world, no matter what is being grown. The second is regenerative agriculture, which is a method of farming that takes nature into account, producing organic foods in a cyclical manner that synergistically makes soil, natural habitat, animal presence and cover crops partners in the production.

The first, traditional monocropping, is run by agri-giants that don’t care about the soil or even the quality of the final product, as long as they can keep churning out new GE seeds and companion pesticides, fungicides and herbicides to kill off anything living that might threaten the crops. But whether you’re growing row after row of soybeans or corn, or plantation after plantation of cloned bananas, the bottom line is monocropping is NOT self-sustaining. Rather, it’s so nonsustainable that eventually it kills off itself, and that’s why these crops need scientists who are continually looking for the next “best” seed and poison.

On the other hand, regenerative agriculture feeds and rebuilds decimated soils and protects the diversification that is necessary for healthy crops, both present and future. In other words, it rebuilds itself without the need for constant re-engineering. And while Big Ag claims the only way to feed the world is through monocropping, the truth is that regenerative farmers around the world are proving that nature’s way of doing things not only is more productive, but actually the ONLY way to feed the world.
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