Southeast Asia was never an ideal place to grow bananas commercially, says Ploetz. Because the banana evolved there, every parasite and pathogen that evolved alongside it is also hanging out there, waiting to attack it.
Success in the globalized food trade has come to mean planting crops far away from where they evolved, in a climate as similar as possible, and then sitting back and collecting the profits until the pests show up. In the case of the banana, arguably the first globalized fruit, new markets have led to new growing regions. As Japan began to globalize, a few plantations were laid out in Taiwan. And when Saudi Arabia began to import bananas, residents made it clear that they would really prefer their bananas grown in an Islamic country -- and suddenly there were plantations in Indonesia and Malaysia too.
It turns out that the Race IV fungus does cause a true bananapocalypse. It just hasn't spread everywhere -- yet.
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