>> Dec 15, 2008
Who ever thought bananas could go extinct? It sounds crazy, but it's true. Some scientists are predicting that we may be without bananas, completely, in 10 years time. Why? Two deadly fungal diseases are whiping out our crops.
Besides the sad loss of banana bread, this is a major concern for food security all over the world, especially in some parts of Asia and Africa where bananas are a staple food.
Why is this happening? Unlike most species of plants and animals, the common banana that we eat today is sterile and can not reproduce on its own. Bananas are grown by the cuttings of banana plants. The problem is that reproduction is the way that most species change and adapt their genes to resist against disease, so that the species can continue. The bananas don't have this capability, and so are being ravaged by these diseases.
So what can we do? Genetic modification is an option, but it's likely some consumers will protest this. Some scientists are looking for a natural mutant which has fungal resistance, but if found, it will look and taste different than our current variety.
For more info: http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2003/jan/16/gm.science