Bananas: Now Even Weirder Somehow

There is calamitous news on the breakfast front, people. Breakfast is sacrosanct here at Analog Nation, so I would not throw around a word like "calamitous" lightly. Apparently I'm fine throwing around "sacrosanct," though. At any rate, the news isn't good. Bananas, it seems, are not long for this world. To understand how this came about, we need a bit of agricultural history. A hundred and fifty years ago, bananas were quite different from what’s on kitchen tables today. Oh sure, chimps loved them, and their peels caused ...

Wait a minute, wait, wait. Haven't I said this before? Seriously, haven't I said these exact same words before?

Let's just assume for a moment that I'm not imagining the whole thing. So then, what exactly is this new story I saw? Could it be that the plight of the banana has actually managed to get worse?

Three years ago, I first heard about the bizarre genetic conundrum facing the banana industry. To wit, all bananas are genetically identical, and are therefore crazy-level susceptible to disease. Which, you're never going to believe it, has struck. Multiple times. Unless Science(!) figures something out, our grandchildren may grow up without ever knowing what it's like to peel a banana. Not that they'll care, with all their video games and their phone texting, and would it kill them to say "sir" and "ma'am" now and then?

The banana situation was so fascinatingly weird that I could scarcely believe there was room for more. And yet, here we are. An international team of researchers has determined that the banana's annihilation stems from seven thousand years of inbreeding. Seven thousand years of inbreeding! That is madness. Delicious madness, but madness nonetheless.

This team of ... well, I'm not sure what you'd call them, produce archaeologists I guess, set out to map the banana's history as far back as possible. To salvage its future, they argue, we need to fully understand its past. By the way, had I known that "produce archaeologist" was an option, I would have tried to get better grades. The team's findings are published in the forthcoming issue of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

With any luck, the new information will help formulate a plan for saving this freakishly strange plant, which are basically a race of clones. Clones which have been inbred for seven millennia. Inbred clones which used to be bigger and much tastier, only no one remembers. And which I still eat several mornings per week, in case anyone who read the original post was wondering. And which are sacrosanct. (I should really look up what that word means.)