Amy Sancetta/AP

Rising Prices, Fungus Threaten U.S. Banana Supply

June 19, 2008 09:19 AM
by Rachel Balik
Rising prices and the spread of a fungus may make bananas a rare commodity for Americans in future.

30-Second Summary

Dan Koeppel, author of “Banana: The Fate of the Fruit That Changed the World,” predicts that rising banana prices combined with the spread of a fungus that is damaging crops will leave Americans searching for some other garnish to put in their cereal. He warns, “The banana is a living organism. It can get sick, and since bananas all come from the same gene pool, a virulent enough malady could wipe out the world’s commercial banana crop in a matter of years.”

Fear erupted a few years ago when Panama Disease Race 4 surfaced in Asia, but the International Banana Association argued that, “It is far from certain that Panama Disease Race 4 will spread to Latin America.” Other optimists suggest that even if the disease wipes out the species of banana we currently ingest, the Cavendish, a replacement species can be found among the 300 other varieties.

But dispelling fears about disease does little to reverse current economic conditions. Even if we continue to have healthy bananas, we should expect to pay more for them.

Headline Link: ‘Yes, We Will Have No Bananas’

Background: The rise of banana prices and the threat of fungus

Analysis: Bananas will survive

Related Topic: Chiquita Banana’s bad ethics


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