Banana Killing Fungus Reaches the Americas
Originally discovered in soil samples in Taiwan in the 90s, and then later in 2013 in Africa and the Middle East, Panama disease Tropical Race 4-or TR4-has been positively identified in bananas in Colombia.That first go-round with Race 1 pretty much destroyed the "Big Mike" (okay, Gros Michel, Fat Michael) variety and as the report says, led to the adoption of the Cavendish.
TR4 is an infection of the banana plant by the fungus Fusarium odoratissimum. While the fungus is not a direct threat to human health, it does pose a potentially disastrous problem. Banana plants that are infected with TR4 stop bearing fruit, and for a country like Colombia, it could be devastating.
Like most of Latin America, Colombia relies heavily on the cultivation of bananas, not only as a source of nutrition but also as a national commodity. Colombia houses four of the 5 leading exporters in the market. In fact, the discovery of the lethal fungus by the Colombian Agriculture and Livestock Authority-or ICA-prompted the declaration of a national state of emergency.
Although this isn't the first recorded strand of the TR virus, it is the most deadly. The first known strand, called Race 1, hit in the early 1900s and nearly wiped out all of the world's banana supply. One variety of banana, the Cavendish was found to be resistant to the strand and soon became the banana of choice for western markets. TR4 however, does not discriminate....MORE
Unfortunately there doesn't appear to be a replacement for the Cavendish variety at the moment.
We've been tracking this for a decade.
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On the plus side, risk mitigation:
Don't Laugh: Banana Peels Are A Real Hazard