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Food The World's Top Banana Is Doomed and Nobody Can Find a Replacement

14:21  23 december  2017
14:21  23 december  2017 Source:   online.wsj.com

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Growers and scientists are keeping their eyes peeled for a replacement . Photo: Bloomberg News. They were tantalized by images circulating online, purportedly taken by locals, that depict a towering banana corm, several stories high, with leaves about 5 yards long.

Bananas are one of the world ’ s most popular fruits, including in the U.S., which imports .3 billion worth each year. Companies, government agencies and institutes are spending millions of dollars on research and development to find a new top banana .

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In June, a team of European researchers traveled to Papua New Guinea on a mission of global significance. They came to search for the Giant Banana plant.

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They came to search for the Giant Banana plant. The scientists traveled through the jungles of the South Pacific nation, by car and on foot, accompanied by Why Is A Top Vatican Official Hanging Out At Bilderberg? Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Vatican Secretary of State, will participate in this year' s

Companies, government agencies and institutes are spending millions of dollars on research and development to find a new top banana . — lucy craymer, WSJ, " The World ’ s Top Banana Is Doomed and Nobody Can Find a Replacement ," 18 Dec.

The scientists traveled through the jungles of the South Pacific nation, by car and on foot, accompanied by two armed guards. They were tantalized by images circulating online, purportedly taken by locals, that depict a towering banana corm, several stories high, with leaves about 5 yards long.

The researchers found plenty of unusual banana varieties, but their quest to find the Giant, and to sample its bounty, proved fruitless. “We were all really disappointed,” said Julie Sardos, a French scientist for Bioversity International, a global research institute.

Scientists around the world are rushing to find and develop new types of bananas, driven in part by a potential crisis in the supply of the Cavendish—the variety commonly found in supermarkets around the world. Bananas are one of the world’s most popular fruits, including in the U.S., which imports $2.3 billion worth each year.

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The world ’ s top banana is doomed and nobody can find a replacement .

The Cavendish is under threat of extinction from a fungal disease that is spreading across the world, killing the plants that bear the fruit. Cavendish bananas are seedless, so their plants are genetic clones, making them vulnerable to disease.

The soil-borne fungus is estimated to have damaged more than 30% of Asia’s and Australia’s banana plantations, and has made its way to Africa and the Middle East. If it reaches Latin America and the Caribbean, source of 85% of the world’s banana exports and the majority of American fruit, it could wipe billions of dollars from the export industry. The fungus affects some lesser-known varieties, too.

So scientists are roaming through rural areas and working in their labs in pursuit of possible alternatives—though it’s proving hard to find ones with consumer appeal. There are more than 1,500 types of edible and wild bananas, but they often look and taste peculiar. Some are squat. Some are red. Others fan out in semicircles rather than neat clumps. Many have seeds the size of peas. Some are mushy, have thin skins or ripen too quickly. Some are even self-peeling, hanging on plants with their flesh exposed.

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The researchers found plenty of unusual banana varieties, but their quest to find the Giant, and to sample its bounty, proved fruitless. Bananas are one of the world ’ s most popular fruits, including in the U.S., which imports .3 billion worth each year.

They were tantalized by images circulating online, purportedly taken by locals, that depict a towering banana corm, several stories high, with leaves about 5 yards long. — lucy craymer, WSJ, " The World ’ s Top Banana Is Doomed and Nobody Can Find a Replacement ," 18 Dec. 2017.

“The consumer is very attached to the highly predictable and totally dependable Cavendish banana,” said Miguel Munoz, a scientist based in Costa Rica at Dole Food Co., which sells more than five billion pounds of the fruit globally each year. It is “almost perfect,” he lamented.

Companies, government agencies and institutes are spending millions of dollars on research and development to find a new top banana. In October, the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization announced a $98 million plan to develop new varieties of the fruit and to stop the spread of the disease.

Dr. Munoz of Dole is working with researchers to induce mutations in banana cells that lead to disease-tolerant variant plants. A team of scientists led by Adolfo Martinez at the Honduran Foundation for Agricultural Research is growing hybrid bananas by crossing the Cavendish with other varieties. Dr. Martinez tries three or four new bananas from his team’s plants each week. Most of the hybrids aren’t sweet enough, said Dr. Martinez.

“Some have a latex flavor, or they’re very dry or too creamy. Some just have no flavor at all,” he said.

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Tagged with banana , banana for scale, banana not for scale, theresalwaysmoneyinthebananastand; Shared by drapester. Our favorite scale is in trouble!

0&p_cur_date_r=09.04.2018&p_doctypeid1=0&p_doctypeid3=3&p_doctypeid2=6&p_page=16&p_docid=81577092 The World ' s Top Banana Is Doomed and They came to search for the Giant Banana plant. The scientists traveled through the jungles of the South Pacific nation, by car and on foot

Then there’s the color. Most people expect bananas to have a specific hue. Some of the hybrid bananas are too orange and others are too light. The goal is to come up with varieties that could ultimately undergo trials with willing U.S. consumers. But Dr. Martinez estimates that for 1,000 new banana varieties, there may be just one with commercial potential.

The fruit also needs to be able to survive journeys of up to several thousand miles from plantation to supermarket shelf without becoming mushy or discolored.

A banana truck in Jalgaon, India. © Provided by The Wall Street Journal.

One of the more promising banana variants, known as GCTCV-219, cropped up more than a decade ago in Taiwan, where an accidental Cavendish plant mutation produced a version that was less susceptible to the fungal disease. It is now being grown commercially on a small scale in the Philippines and sold in Japan, where it’s marketed as having an “elegant taste” due to its slightly sweeter flavor.

Its appearance, however, poses a challenge. The fruit doesn’t curve nicely, and rather than coming together into a familiar, neat bunch, the bananas are more spread out. That means they have to be broken up into small bunches of four or five to fit into standard-sized banana shipping boxes. And consumers prefer larger banana bunches, said Agustin B. Molina Jr., a Bioversity International scientist in Manila who has spent 40 years working in the banana industry. “Lots of consumers buy with their eyes, and not for the taste” of bananas, he said.

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Cavendish bananas are going extinct and I'm supposed to keep living a normal life.https doomed - and - nobody - can - find - a - replacement -1513616319 … Undo. @LukasSyka hasn't Tweeted yet. Back to top ↑. Loading seems to be taking a while.

The World ’ s Top Banana Is Doomed and Nobody Can Find a Replacement . Banana Brothers, Inc. added 9 new photos to the album Pineapples. · 24 December 2017 ·. Our pineapples loaded and ready to depart tonight to Middle East.

Scientist James Dale of the Queensland University of Technology in Brisbane, Australia, recently wrapped up a three-year trial showing that he had created a genetically-modified Cavendish banana that wasn’t affected by soil contaminated with the fungus.

Dr. Dale said that his team has planted more of the varietal for further testing, and the fruit will need regulatory approvals before it can be grown commercially. He acknowledges that they could be a hard sell to some consumers. “GMO is clearly controversial,” he said.

Others continue roaming through the jungles in hopes of finding new alternatives.

Researchers at the University of the Philippines Los Banos are surveying the country’s 7,000 islands in search of wild bananas. The team regularly heads to the Philippines’ outer islands for up to a week at time, asking locals to help identify possible varieties. If they’re lucky, they might find a wild banana plant growing on the side of the road. But largely they have to trek through dense jungles in mountainous areas. Each trip may yield just one banana variety that researchers take back to the university to study, says Lavernee Gueco, one of the researchers.

In some areas, bananas of varying lengths hang in bunches from plants. Most contain hard black seeds and don’t have much flesh.

“You can eat the wild bananas,” Mr. Gueco said, “but it’s not pleasant.”

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