Beyond my book, there’s lots of new writing about the world’s most important, threatened, and dangerous fruit. In this week’s New Yorker, Mike Peed chronicles Australia’s disastrous and dimwitted attempts to stop the spread of Panama Disease, the blight that threatens the global commercial banana crop. He also visits with James Dale, a biotechnologist who is attempting to develop a genetically-engineered banana that will resist the blight. I’ve written about both extensively, here and elsewhere, but Peed’s account – especially his reporting from Australia’s plantations – is terrific. Finally, he goes to Honduras, and the research center there that’s attempting to conventionally breed a resistant banana. The center – formerly owned by Chiquita, and now independent – is where my entry into the world of the fruit began. One editorial comment: Peed touches ont how long it takes to conventionally breed bananas, and how frustrating that process is. My personal view is that these elements make conventional breeding so flawed that it likely won’t work. Despite this, as the article notes, both major banana companies – Chiquita and Dole – are contracted with the Honduran facility as they race to develop a stronger fruit before the blight reaches their Central American plantations.
And thanks, Mike, for crediting the book in your piece!
Peed’s article (summarized only, if you’re not a subscriber.)
My reporting on Australia.
My reporting on James Dale:
(There’s tons of other related stuff in the blog. To see banana posts only, click here.)