Because all commercially grown bananas were identical cultivars of the ‘Cavendish’, they are at risk of worldwide extinction, creating mass unemployment which will be quickly followed by starvation of the population of banana producing countries.
Such a near-total reliance in crop cultivation is uncommon and is made even more unbelievable by the fact that the ‘Smooth Cayenne’ has been the backbone of the global pineapple industry for more than a century. First collected by Samuel Perrotet in 1919 in French Guiana, it was rapidly distributed and planted in other geographical regions.
A virtual mono-culture also means that diseases may appear in far-away corners of the globe and these can spread like wildfire because of the fact that all these pineapples are genetically the same. Which is exactly what is happening now: diseases like (bacterial) heart rot or (fungal) pineapple black rot are already widespread and are now common and destructive pineapple diseases in the world. In Malaysia, both bacterial heart rot and fruit collapse caused by Dickeya spp. are endemic, with field crop losses recorded of up to 40 per cent. It is feared that the disease may spread to Australia’s Queensland, that has a pineapple industry worth A$80 million a year and underpins more than 1,000 jobs. Hawaii has the only commercial pineapple crop in the USA and thus represents the entire U.S. industry but when bacterial heart rot of pineapple was reported in Hawaii in 2003 and reoccurred in 2006, it was a serious blow to the industry.