World Banana Forum warns bananas could disappear from UK supermarket shelves

 
Alys Key
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Bananas are threatened with possible extinction (Source: Getty)

Bananas are under threat from so-called 'Panama disease', threatening to cut off the supply of one of the UK's favourite fruits.

British consumers eat over 5bn bananas every year, but according to a group of trade unions and producers at this year's World Banana Forum the fruit could be devastated by a disease.

The emergence of tropical race 4 (TR4), a new strain of fusarium oxysporum has so far been detected in Asia as well as Africa and Australia.

The fungus can colonize plant roots, causing the crops to wilt. Known as 'Panama disease' since the 1950s, it has been known to almost entirely wipe out production of a particular type of banana.

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The UK's GMB Union argued today that current large-scale methods of farming are exacerbating the problem, and that producers should move away from monoculture in order to save the banana from potential extinction.

Speaking from the World Banana Forum in Geneva, GMB international officer Bert Schouwenburg said that "it is only a matter of time before the disease takes hold with devastating consequences for exports to Britain and Europe.

“The system for the production and trade of dessert bananas is little more than a house of cards built on the shaky foundations of monoculture and genetic uniformity. This house of cards threatens to collapse at any moment."

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