Friday, May 02, 2003
Yes, We have No Bananas...Period. 
by Lenka Reznicek [permalink] 
The Health News Digest reports that the banana could be extinct in as little as a decade. How can this be? Apparently, all commercially-grown bananas are produced asexually, and are essentially clones. Dr. James Pierce, associate professor of genetics and biotechnology at University of the Sciences in Philadelphia, says:
"Because the bananas we eat are triploids, they can only be grown, not through sexual reproduction, but asexually," says Dr. Pierce. "Since bananas are sterile, they are basically cloned and are bred to be these beautiful yellow fruits that are sweet, have no seeds and last very long. There is no variety since there is no sexual reproduction. Bananas have the same genotype or genes, and are essentially identical clones."

So is the banana as we know it doomed? Some researchers claim the delicious, yellow fruit could become extinct within the next 10 years. Dr. Pierce says the amount of money and pesticides needed to preserve the banana against the Black Sigatoka [fungus] is growing. "Plants have to use lots of fungicides because this fungus, like many microorganisms, is becoming resistant to the chemicals' effects," he says."
If we've ever needed a bigger wake-up call about the ill-wisdom of cloning - especially of the human sort - I think this is it. No bananas in ten years??? Good heavens, think of the constipation!

Good Kitty

A Grist Magazine cartoon by Suzy Becker...ha.