Did you know that bananas are in danger of extinction? I heard this some time ago and shrugged it off as an urban myth, but this month's issue of Popular Science has a big article on the subject. In short, bananas as we know them are very vulnerable to being wiped out to a fungus or disease, and if it happened, would happen very quickly. Within 5 to ten years from now our supermarket shelves could be completely devoid of what is now America's most popular fruit!
This actually happened one other time in our history. The bananas on our kitchen tables 40 years ago were a bit different (and tastier) than the ones we have now. Those bananas, called the Gros Michel, were eventually wiped out by a fungus in the early 1960's, after a 50 year fight. They were replaced by what we eat now, a breed called The Cavendish. The demise of the Cavendish could be more imminent. A new disease is already affecting banana crops throughout Asia, and if the disease makes it's way to Latin America, the banana could be toast. Scientists are working feverishly to both build a defense against an impending fungus and develop a new breed of bananas that would replace the Cavendish in the event of it's demise. So far, the scientists haven't had luck in either area. Check out the full article for the story, http://www.popsci.com/popsci/science/article/0,20967,1076199,00.html and enjoy The World's Perfect Food while you still can.