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Adios, Banana: Why Future Generations Will Likely Never Taste One of Our Favorite Fruits

Banana1_2 It’s less sensational news than skyrocketing food and oil prices, but the beloved yellow banana may soon disappear forever. Bananas are even more heavily consumed in many parts of the world than rice or potatoes, but now a fungus called Panama Disease is turning them brick-red and inedible. Here’s the worst part: There is no cure for Panama Disease and it is spreading very quickly. Experts surmise that within the next three decades, the sweet and creamy food staple will be nonexistent.

Johann Hari of The Independent recently reported that, “The story of how the banana rose and fell can be seen a strange parable about the corporations that increasingly dominate the world – and where they are leading us.”

In the book Banana: The Fate of the Fruit That Changed the World, writer Dan Koeppel explains how mega-corporations have exploited poor countries, and burned down rainforests to build massive banana plantations. Koeppel says that the banana business may provide a favorite fruit, but it is anything but sweet. The companies treat locals very poorly and are quick to crush any flicker of trade unionism. When banana fields begin to die from the strange disease, he writes, the corporations simply moved on to the next country.

If you assumed the history of bananas would be as mellow as the fruit it produces, you may be in for a surprise. Boring old bananas have a history seemingly ripped out of suspense novel.

“In 1911, the banana magnate Samuel Zemurray decided to seize the country of Honduras as a private plantation. He gathered together some international gangsters like Guy "Machine Gun" Maloney, drummed up a private army, and invaded, installing an amigo as president,” reported Hari, who has done extensive research on the topic. He explains:

The term "banana republic" was invented to describe the servile dictatorships that were created to please the banana companies. In the early 1950s, the Guatemalan people elected a science teacher named Jacobo Arbenz, because he promised to redistribute some of the banana companies' land among the millions of landless peasants. President Eisenhower and the CIA (headed by a former United Fruit employee) issued instructions that these "communists" should be killed, and noted that good methods were "a hammer, axe, wrench, screw driver, fire poker or kitchen knife". The tyranny they replaced it with went on to kill more than 200,000 people.

Wow. That’s an intense history for the seemingly innocuous banana, but what does it have to do with Panama’s disease? Apparently, when Panama Disease first began to kill bananas in the early 20th century, United Fruit's scientists began warning the corporation that it was making a serious error and needed to clean up their policies. For one thing, their “banana empire” was creating a precarious monoculture. The scientists recommended diversifying into a broad range of banana types. If all bananas stemmed from one homogenous species, one disease could wipe out the whole population.

But the company determined that they would rather stick with their current plan, which was bringing in a healthy profit today, and then get out of the banana business if things got bad.

By the 1960s, things did get bad. The Gros Michel that United Fruit had heralded as the world’s best banana was dead. In a scramble to find a replacement banana, they singled out the Cavendish. It bruised easily and was less creamy, but at least it didn’t have the fungus—at least not yet.

But the killer did return. By the 1980s, the Cavendish fell ill. Now it too is dying off. In parts of Africa, the crop is down by 60 percent. Scientists confirm that the fungus will most likely eventually infect all Cavendish bananas everywhere.

“There are bananas we could adopt as Banana 3.0 – but they are so different to the bananas that we know now that they feel like a totally different and far less appetizing fruit. The most likely contender is the Goldfinger, which is crunchier and tangier: it is know as ‘the acid banana’,” laments Hari. He continues:

Thanks to bad corporate behaviour and physical limits, we seem to be at a dead end. The only possible glimmer of hope is a genetically modified banana that can resist Panama Disease. But that is a distant prospect, and it is resisted by many people: would you like a banana split made from a banana split with fish genes?

For a hundred years, a handful of corporations were given a gorgeous fruit, set free from regulation, and allowed to do what they wanted with it. What happened? They had one good entrepreneurial idea – and to squeeze every tiny drop of profit from it, they destroyed democracies, burned down rainforests, and ended up killing the fruit itself.

But have we learned? Across the world, politicians like George Bush and David Cameron are telling us the regulation of corporations is "a menace" to be "rolled back"; they even say we should leave the planet's climate in their hands. Now that's bananas.

If history repeats itself, which it does tend to do, we may have to say goodbye to the banana we have come to know and love. If that happens, our grandchildren will only be able to imagine the soft creamy taste of the world’s former favorite fruit.

Posted by Rebecca Sato

Related Galaxy posts:

Häagen-Dazs Funds Effort to Identify Why Honeybees are Disappearing Worldwide
Genetically Modified dified Food -The Big Debate

Story link:
http://www.independent.co.uk/opinion/commentators/johann-hari/johann-hari-why-bananas-are-a-parable-for-our-times-832104.html

Comments

You may think infected fruit such as bananas, or counter-productive regulations and legislation are all problems without solutions.

Oynklent Green [OTC:OYNK] can take corrupt politicians, trial lawyers, and even infected bananas and turn them all into useful energy. How is this possible? The patented OYNK thermochemical bioenergy process easily turns problems such as corrupt politicos and hyper-litigational attorneys into assets--energy to power homes and drive the commerce of the world.

We at OYNK are currently looking at the bureaucrats of the world who oversee the lion's share of counter-productive governmental and inter-governmental regulation. It is possible that these bureaucrats can make the world better as well, by becoming feedstock.

(sigh) I sit in my shack eating bananas. They tell me it is over and I can no longer eat bananas and I must move to the wastelands of the north where there are only polar bear bones and small ice chunks left to eat and drink. Oh...what shall I do? Are you all getting tired of me yet? Well...suffer with me. I am tired of the doom and end of all stories that describe a problem but never offer a solution.

This is a shining example of a press release from a publicist for a book masquerading as news. Oh fark.

This is such unpublisized news that it seems almost impossible to believe in. However, the majority of media probably is unaware of this issue.

what would be really funny is if the masses loved the idea of bananas so much that a slow integration of fishy, acidic substitutes turned out to be the optimum solution.
yum.

You are a communist and must be killed with a hammer.

fuck capitalism

How am I supposed to eat Banana Splits now??

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