A frightening new study says that bananas may soon be a thing of the past.
The study in the scientific journal PLOS Pathogens predicts bananas will be made extinct by a fungus called Panama disease.
There is no known way to eradicate, or even slow, this strain of the deadly fungus, called Tropical Race 4, which is bad news for the $11 billion banana industry.
While the disease has been plaguing the earth since the 1960s, it has been largely contained to East Asia and Southeast Asia, reports Quartz.com. However, in recent years, it has started jumping continents — which means it’s just a matter of time before it reaches Latin America, where the majority of banana crops are located.
“We know that the origin of [Tropical Race 4] is in Indonesia and that it spread from there, most likely first into Taiwan and then into China and the rest of Southeast Asia,” Gert Kema, a banana expert at Wageningen University and Research Centre in the Netherlands, who co-authored the study, tells Quartz. The deadly fungus has now leaped to Pakistan, Lebanon, Jordan, Oman, and Mozambique, as well as to Australia’s northeast Queensland, he says.
Don’t go hoarding your bananas just yet — it will take a long time for this strain to cause real harm. Quartz reports that while this strain of the disease was discovered in Taiwan in the 1960s, it took nearly 55 years to decimate that country’s banana supply. Taiwan now exports about 2 percent of what it once did.