Banana-Geddon: Climate Change may Wipe Out this Yellow Fruit

First Posted: Dec 18, 2013 11:56 AM EST

That fun, yellow fruit known as a banana may be in danger due to climate change. You heard correctly.

According to a recent Scientific American report, Magda Gonzalex, Costa Rica's director of the agriculture ministry's State Phytosanitary Services (SFE), which oversees the Central American nation's crop of the yellow fruit eaten around the world, is declaring a national emergency after 20 percent of it was devastated by two separate outbreaks of mealy bugs and scale insects at banana plantations in Mozambique and Jordan. 

"Climate change, by affecting temperature, favors the conditions under which (the insects) reproduce," Gonzalez said, via the organization. "I can tell you with near certainty that climate change is behind these pests."

The news organization notes that the bugs disfigure the fruit, which causes a rejection of up to 20 percent of its shipment and weakens the overall health of the plant.

In the 1950s, a similar outbreak included the Fusarium fungus that nearly wiped out the Gros Michel cultivar and is similar to a Cavendish variety found in Central and South America. However, Cavendish is not resistant to the newest Fusarium strain.

"Given today's modes of travel, there's no doubt that it will hit the major Cavendish crops," Randy Ploetz, a plant pathologist at the University of Florida who studied the new strain of fungus said, via an article from Popular Science in 2008.

Bananas can be found in more than 130 countries and 100 million billion bananas are consumed around the world each year. Behind certain crops such as wheat, rice and corn, it's considered one of the most important food crops.  Only 15 percent of the annual banana crops are exported from mainly the United States and Europe, while the rest is consumed locally.  

We certainly like our yellow fruits, the banana being one of our particular favorites along with pineapples, lemons and all the rest. Do you think officials can get a hold on this outbreak? 

See Now: NASA's Juno Spacecraft's Rendezvous With Jupiter's Mammoth Cyclone

©2017 All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission. The window to the world of science news.

Join the Conversation

Real Time Analytics