Yes, We Have No Bananas — it’s a silly song now but it may be the real deal soon. “Panama Disease” or “Tropical Race 4” is threatening the Latin American banana supply, according to CNN, and it could be more than a temporary problem. Though we commonly think of the banana as a single product, there are over a 1,000 varieties of bananas — most in Africa and Asia. But if you ate one recently it was most likely a Cavendish banana, which is currently being threatened. The Cavendish is the most cultivated and popular banana — it dominates the commercial market.
The destruction of banana types by disease is not new. The Gros Michel banana was made extinct by a similar disease in the 1960s. The history of banana cultivation on Wikipedia is fascinating. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations calls the banana industry a $36 billion a year business.