Bananas at risk of disappearing from UK shelves

Latest report shows spread of disease threaten bananas with extinction. Trade unions and producers have warned the fruit could disappear from UK shelves unless preventive action is taken.

The True Race 4 (TR4) virus is a new strain of the ‘Panama Disease’, and has laid waste to banana crops across Asia, Africa and Australia. The disease is yet to emerge in Latin America, but the lack of defensive barriers means it could arrive there immanently.

TR4 is a soil fungus that kills bananas grown for the international market. Trade unions and farmers are calling on changes in production methods to be implemented, in order to save the banana from extinction.

Bert Schouwenburg, GMB international officer said: “Our sister trade unions tell us that producers are desperate to prevent the ‘Fusarium RT4’ disease spreading to Latin America from other parts of the world.

“However, unless there is a fundamental shift in production methods, away from exploitative, environmentally destructive plantation monoculture, it is only a matter of time before the disease takes hold with devastating consequences for exports to Britain and Europe.”

The UK and Ireland consumes around 100 bananas per person every year, and the fruit is consistently ranked the UK’s most popular fruit. Its disappearance from the marketplace would be a devastating blow to consumers and retailers alike.

Mr Schouwenberg went on to say: “Producers, retailers and unions must take advantage of the Forum to map out a sustainable future for the banana.”

A recent poll by Barclays found 62 per cent of 2,000 UK consumers said they feared exotic fruits would become more difficult to purchase after Brexit.



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