Enjoy your smoothies and splits while you still can; bananas are under attack. According to CNN Money, a disease known as Panama disease or Fusarium wilt is wiping out banana crops (specifically Cavendish bananas, which are what American consumers are used to) in Asia, Australia, Africa and the Middle East.
This is not the banana industry’s first encounter with the disease. Back in the 1960s, a strain of Fusarium wilt wiped out the Gros Michel, which, until that point, had been the world’s preferred banana breed. After that, producers turned their attention to the Cavendish, a lesser varietal that happened to be immune to the disease. Sadly, the Cavendish has no such immunity to the new strain and it seems like growers and scientists have given up on it. Researchers are looking for a replacement banana breed.
Right now, a few different strains of mutant Cavendish are being tested in the Philippines and China. “They’re quite promising,” banana scientist Inge Van den Berge told CNN Money. But they’re not ideal. Van den Bergh deems them to be not as tasty as our current Cavendish and she admits that they don’t travel as well.
Latin America, North America’s primary source of bananas, is currently not suffering an outbreak, so banana prices in the U.S. aren’t rising—yet. If the disease isn’t controlled, it could spread to Latin America through the soil. Then, banana prices would go up and our beloved Cavendish might disappear for good.