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The Republic in The Banana

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PostPosted: Sun Jan 24, 2016 10:08 pm    Post subject: The Republic in The Banana Reply with quote


Well " banana republic " is of course an old tag or joke, but apparently there is a crisis impending which illustrates an important Republican point : The Rights of Bananas - and other assorted vegetables ... and indeed minerals ...

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-35131751 - The imminent death of the Cavendish banana and why it affects us all

" ... practically every banana consumed in the western world is directly descended from a plant grown in the Derbyshire estate's hothouse 180 years ago ... This is the story of how the Cavendish became the world's most important fruit - and why it and bananas as we know them could soon cease to exist ... In November 1835 Paxton's plant finally flowered and by the following May it was loaded with more than 100 bananas, one of which won a medal at that year's Horticultural Society show ... A few years later the duke supplied two cases of plants to a missionary named John Williams to take to Samoa ... Only one survived the journey but it launched the banana industry in Samoa and other South Sea islands ( Williams himself was killed by natives.) ... the Cavendish spread, but it is only in relatively recent years that it has become the exporter's banana of choice, its rise in popularity caused by the very thing that is now killing it off - the Panama disease ...

... For decades the most-exported and therefore most important banana in the world was the Gros Michel, but in the 1950s it was practically wiped out by the fungus known as Panama disease or banana wilt ...Banana growers turned to another breed that was immune to the fungus - the Cavendish, a smaller and by all accounts less tasty fruit but one capable of surviving global travel and, most importantly, able to grow in infected soils ... Though banana-growing habitats still have their own breeds, practically all bananas exported to foreign markets such as Europe, the UK and North America, are Cavendishes, clones of the first Chatsworth plant ... And a quarter of the bananas eaten in India are Cavendishes while practically all the bananas sold and consumed in China are descended from Chatsworth's plant ... Some 10,000 hectares of Cavendish have already been destroyed according to Panama Disease.org and experts warn many more will follow if the fungus is not stopped ...

... "To carry on growing the same genetic banana is stupid," Dr Kema said ... "It is necessary that we improve the Cavendish through genetic engineering but parallel to that we must be finding genetic diversity in our breeding programmes." ...And it is vital we keep the banana says Adam Hart, professor of science communications at the University of Gloucestershire, not only because it is vital to numerous countries' economies but also because it is popular ... science communication professor Adam Hart "The world would carry on if we lost bananas but it would be devastating for those who rely on it economically and very sad for those of us who enjoy eating them." ...

Now dimly from the depths of my memory I retrieved the fact that the original bananas are nothing like our present ones and that the original species have been almost eradicated in favour of the cultivated ones, which resulted in this lack of genetic diversity : so - since bananas can not appear in court rooms and advocate for their own rights to life - surely it is the duty of Republicans to talk bananas ?

Let me go surfing the subject for a while ...

http://www.cgiar.org/our-strategy/crop-factsheets/bananas/ ( a very interesting website : lots of stuff to read )

" ... Bananas and plantains (Musa spp. L.) are important staple foods for nearly 400 million people in many developing countries, especially in Africa. Total global production ranks fourth after maize, rice and wheat. ...Bananas and plantains provide food security and income for small-scale farmers who represent the majority of producers. Only 15% of global banana and plantain production is involved in international trade – most production is consumed domestically ... There are many historical references to banana and plantain. The earliest written reference was some 2500 years ago ... research has shown that the center of origin of the wild banana stretches from India to Papua New Guinea including Malaysia and Indonesia ... Banana fruits are consumed and processed in many ways and at all stages of ripening and development, leading to products with increased shelf life, such as flour, chips, and beverages. In India and other Asian countries, banana is grown for its leaves (for plates or firewood) or fiber extracted from the pseudo‐stem (for ropes and fishing nets). In Southeast Asia, the flowers and terminal bud are eaten cooked or raw and the pseudo‐stem is mostly eaten in times of famine or used to feed pigs. Year‐round production of banana provides a food ‘bridge’ between cereal harvests when food is scarce. ...

... The crop is both an important food source and a significant generator of rural income, which means that improving productivity could have great social benefits ... In a major research breakthrough, International Institute of Tropical Agriculture ( IITA ) scientists have successfully transferred genes from green pepper to bananas that enable the crop to resist Banana Xanthomonas Wilt ( BXW ), one of the most devastating diseases of banana in the Great Lakes region of Africa that causes about half a billion dollars’ worth of damage yearly. ... The fungal disease Black Sigatoka is considered the most economically important disease of banana worldwide, causing yield losses up to 50%. IITA has successfully identified variations within the Black Sigatoka species in Africa, opening up the possibility of designing new diagnostic tools ... "

YES ...I know exactly what you are thinking : what about The Rights Of The Fungi ? ...But let us first learn a bit more about The Republic Of Bananas -


The banana is an edible fruit, botanically a berry ... Musa species are native to tropical Indomalaya and Australia, and are likely to have been first domesticated in Papua New Guinea. They are grown in at least 107 countries, primarily for their fruit, and to a lesser extent to make fiber, banana wine and banana beer and as ornamental plants ... The banana plant is the largest herbaceous flowering plant ... Bananas are naturally slightly radioactive, more so than most other fruits, because of their potassium content and the small amounts of the isotope potassium-40 found in naturally occurring potassium. The banana equivalent dose of radiation is sometimes used in nuclear communication to compare radiation levels and exposures ...


... In a series of papers published in 1947 onwards, Ernest Cheesman showed that Linnaeus's Musa sapientum and Musa paradisiaca were actually cultivars and descendants of two wild seed-producing species, Musa acuminata and Musa balbisiana, both first described by Luigi Aloysius Colla. He recommended the abolition of Linnaeus's species in favor of reclassifying bananas according to three morphologically distinct groups of cultivars – those primarily exhibiting the botanical characteristics of Musa balbisiana, those primarily exhibiting the botanical characteristics of Musa acuminata, and those with characteristics that are the combination of the two ... the banana producer and distributor Chiquita produces publicity material for the American market which says that "a plantain is not a banana". The stated differences are that plantains are more starchy and less sweet; they are eaten cooked rather than raw; they have thicker skin, which may be green, yellow or black; and they can be used at any stage of ripeness. Linnaeus made the same distinction between plantains and bananas when first naming two "species" of Musa. ... Many wild banana species as well as cultivars exist in extraordinary diversity in India, China, and Southeast Asia ... In 1999 archaeologists in London discovered what they believed to be the oldest banana in the UK, in a Tudor rubbish tip ...

... Export bananas are picked green, and ripen in special rooms upon arrival in the destination country. These rooms are air-tight and filled with ethylene gas to induce ripening. The vivid yellow color consumers normally associate with supermarket bananas is, in fact, caused by the artificial ripening process. Flavor and texture are also affected by ripening temperature. ... Ripening bananas fluoresce a bright blue color when exposed to ultraviolet light. This property is attributed to the degradation of chlorophyll, leading to the accumulation of a fluorescent product in the skin of the fruit. The chlorophyll breakdown product is stabilized by a propionate ester group. Banana-plant leaves also fluoresce in the same way. Green bananas do not fluoresce. The fluorescence allows animals which can see light in the ultraviolet spectrum to more easily detect ripened bananas or may add protection against ultraviolet exposure, like a sunscreen, allowing the fruit to remain fresh longer. ...


( I'm going to try to finish this tomorrow evening : this turns out to be packed with even more issues that I thought - the general point is our responsibility to ensure that we do not destroy other species like germs etc, but the interesting point is what do we owe to the domesticated life forms which only exist because we have cultivated them - and now that we have these genetic technologies, what do we owe to these new life forms which we are creating : have they rights, and if they can not speak for themselves do we not have the responsibility to speak on their behalf - and therefore against ourselves ? )




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PostPosted: Sat Jan 30, 2016 10:06 pm    Post subject: banana Reply with quote

And then, Jared Diamond has told us all about the 'banana corridor' which brought bananas from their ancestral home via trade links to ourselves. We have a cultural image of our cousins, chimps, bonobos, gorillas making a staple diet of bananas but this can't have been the case until recent historical times as bananas, as sure as hell, didn't evolve in Africa.

But it's hard to believe this as we stoically queue up to buy cuddly gorillas for our kids, which have wild but cute expressions and smooth half peeled silky artificial bananas firmly sewn to their hands.

The ancestral banana would have been totally inedible for humans and maybe our primate cousins too. We had to tinker cunningly with their genes. Yet Steve Jones tells us that bananas are a genetic disaster waiting to happen.

Like the 'lumper' potato introduced to Ireland it is a sexless clone of a single parent and can't evolve fast enough to fight fungal and other infections. And now we know this had already happened elsewhere. Why do I get the impression that bananas have been manipulated and oppressed?
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