Video: Anti-biotechnology activism is blocking our only way to save the Cavendish, the world’s most popular banana

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Credit: Getty Images
Credit: Getty Images

Narrator: Ninety-nine percent of bananas exported to developed countries are just one group called the Cavendish. And the Cavendish is vulnerable to Tropical Race 4, or Panama disease, a fungus that’s now ravaging banana farms across the globe.

[Researcher James Dale]: We found the solution in the line of Cavendish which appears to be completely resistant to TR4. The thing we haven’t done yet is a taste test. And that’s because they’re GM. They look, smell, feel exactly the same as every other, but we’ve only changed one gene.

Narrator: But no one would buy his miracle banana because it was genetically modified.

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Narrator: In the EU, most member countries have either partly or fully banned GMOs. In the US, they’re allowed but feared. One argument against GMOs is that these modified plants would quickly spread their genes and kill out biodiversity. But with bananas, that’s not a problem.

James: The genes don’t move because they are sterile. You can grow a GM banana next to a non GM banana for 50 years and the gene will not move from under the other. Incredibly frustrating. There’s a solution, but it’s a scientific solution, but not a political solution.

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