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The world's most common banana could become extinct, which is bad for banana lovers and the banana industry. A fungus called TP4 is killing millions of Cavendish banana plants. The Cavendish is the world's most common banana. The fungus blocks water tubes inside the plant, so the banana cannot get the water it needs and it dies. Scientists first discovered TP4 in Malaysia in 1990. It quickly spread to other parts of Asia, and then to Australia and Africa. TP4 is carried by the wind, water, cars and even people's boots. A tiny amount of it spreads across large areas very quickly.
Before we started eating the Cavendish banana, we ate a variety called the Gros Michel. Fifty years ago, it was the world's main banana. However, a fungus called Panama Disease killed it and it became extinct in 1965. Banana growers changed to the Cavendish banana. The problem for the banana industry is that burning all their banana plants will not help the situation. This is because the fungus stays in the ground, so new plants cannot grow. Scientists say one answer is genetically modified (GM) bananas that are resistant to diseases like TP4 and Panama Disease.
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