Banana Pandemic?

I love how the writer misstates Covid-19 as if it is a plague that is going to change life as we know it. The virus didn’t do that. The response by authorities did that.

Anyway, this is about bananas, not Covid-19.


killer disease turns up out of the blue. It moves by “stealth transmission”, spreading before symptoms even show. Once it takes hold, it is already too late to stop it – there is no cure. Life will never be the same again. Sound familiar?

Although this may sound remarkably like Covid-19, I am actually talking about Tropical Race 4 (TR4), a disease that affects bananas. Also known as Panama Disease, it is a fungus that has been rampaging through banana farms for the past 30 years. But within the last decade the epidemic has suddenly accelerated, spreading from Asia to Australia, the Middle East, Africa and more recently Latin America, where the majority of the bananas shipped to supermarkets in the global north come from. To date it is now in more than 20 countries, prompting fears of a “banana pandemic” and shortages of the world’s favourite fruit.


Scientists around the world are working against the clock to try to find a solution, including creating genetically modified (GM) bananas and a vaccine. But just like Covid-19, the question is not only if we can find a cure, but also how do we live with a “new normal” that will change bananas forever?