Banana Crisis an Example of Agricultural System Lacking Diversity

The global banana industry is facing devastation by Panama disease, a Fusarium wilt to which nearly all of the commercial banana plants grown worldwide are susceptible, writes University of Westminster’s Stuart Thompson in The Conversation. The deadly disease is devastating banana plantations that it infects, because Cavendish banana plants are so genetically similar and planted in wide swaths. Options for dealing with the situation range from quarantines–which are only temporarily successful–to genetic engineering and conventional plant breeding, both of which are expensive and would still leave bananas vulnerable to a new strain of disease. Thompson argues that an agricultural system with more diversity, crop rotation, and companion plants that combat the disease is a better long-term solution, not just for bananas, but for food production in general.