Friday, May 25, 2007

Mono-Culture & Banana Disease

It's the mono culture plantations and the heavy dependence on fungicide that lie at the root of disease free banana cultivation problems. The plantations are convenient for humans, but are wide open to the spreading of disease. There are no natural barriers to protect the plants as there would be in the wild (nature's way). Of course, the fungus can easily spread in a totally unnatural human created environment that benefits the spread of disease over the health of the plants. How do they answer that problem? Massive spraying of fungicides.

Yes, we'll have no bananas?
Wild Bananas, which are much smaller than the bananas we usually see in grocery stores, originated in SE Asia and have been domesticated for thousands of years (perhaps as far back as 8,000 BCE). The Portuguese established banana plantations in the Caribbean and imported the fruit back to Europe. Cultivated bananas are sterile, which means they have no viable seeds, so old plants must be spliced to create new ones. That means taking one plant and creating a clone of it by placing a shoot in the ground and allowing it to grow. This creates a monoculture of genetically-identical bananas. Today banana production occurs in most tropical countries and the banana is perhaps the world's largest monoculture crop. The lack of genetic variability makes them vulnerable to being wiped out abruptly; an entire crop is at risk of crashing when a pathogen is introduced.

Plastic Bananas
"The root of the problem lies in the origins of the edible banana, about 10,000 years ago. The edible banana is a variation of the wild banana, which has lost the mass of black seeds that make the wild banana inedible. But this also means that the edible banana is sterile, and is only propagated through cuttings. Unlike other plants, scientists can not cross-breed different varieties of bananas in an attempt to find a disease resistant plant. Today's bananas only survive through the use of huge amounts of fungicides, as much as 40 sprayings a year. Of course, the fungal diseases mutate and become resistant.

The Banana Plague
Yes - in 10 years we may have no bananas
The Need For A Paradigm Shift

Apes Prefer Organic
Monkeys at Copenhagen Zoo are going ape over organic bananas and other fruits, rejecting traditional foods left in their cages, zookeepers said Monday."For one reason or another, the tapirs and chimpanzees are choosing organically grown bananas over theothers," keeper Niels Melchiorsen told the magazine Oekologisk Jordbrug (Ecological Agriculture).

"Maybe they are able to instinctively tell the difference, and their choice is not at all random," he suggested."The chimpanzees are able to tell the difference between the organic and the regular fruit," Melchiorsen reported: "If we give them organic and traditional bananas, they systematically choose the organic bananas, which they eat with the skin on."

"But they peel the traditional bananas before eating them," he added.

Wheat mixtures better than monocultures
09 May, 2007 - The United States Department of Agriculture recently published a summary of research showing that mixtures of two or three pure varieties of wheat consistently yield an average 3.2% more than monocultures, with no difference in grain quality. The advantage of using agricultural biodiversity in this way apparently stems from the differing response of the mixture components to stresses such as droughts and diseases.