Healthy Cavendish banana plants grow on a plantation between Riohacha and Santa Marta, Colombia, Friday, Aug. 23, 2019. (AP Photo/Fernando Vergara)
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It might not be obvious at the supermarket, but the banana industry is fighting to protect the most popular variety of the fruit from a destructive fungus. A disease that ravages banana crops has made its long-dreaded arrival in Latin America, the biggest exporter of the crop.For years, scientists have said big banana companies like Chiquita and Dole would eventually need to find new banana varieties as the disease spread in countries in Asia and elsewhere.It may seem odd that the world banana market would hitch its fortunes to a single variety, but mass producing just one kind is a way to keep costs down, which also helps make bananas so widely available.Bananas are also hard to breed, and finding varieties suited to global commerce isn't easy. There are concerns that the arrival of the disease will change Colombia's banana industry forever, forcing farms and the government to spend more on sanitary measures.Banana diversity means higher costs, however, and it's not clear that people would be willing to pay more for the fruit.But even with the disease's appearance in Colombia, banana companies say that there's no need to panic.
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