This Banana Disease Is Spreading Because Of Climate Change

mbg Associate Movement & Wellness Editor By Ray Bass, NASM-CPT
mbg Associate Movement & Wellness Editor

Ray Bass is the associate movement and wellness editor at mindbodygreen and a NASM-Certified Personal Trainer. She holds a degree in creative writing from the University of Pennsylvania, with honors in nonfiction.

Image by Tatjana Zlatkovic / Stocksy

Not only has climate change caused our ice caps to melt, increased the frequency and intensity of natural disasters, and endangered the lives of hundreds of animal species, but it's also had a huge impact on our food. Today, we're talking about bananas, and the news is, you guessed it, bananas.

According to a new study done by the University of Exeter, climate change has increased the risk of fungal disease in banana crops—a disease that damages and ultimately destroys them. It's called Black Sigatoka disease, and it originated in Honduras in 1972. Now, it's invading banana-growing areas in Latin American and the Caribbean, and it's spreading as far north as Florida.

Why is this happening? The study points the finger at changes in moisture and temperature caused by climate change. These changes have increased the risk of Black Sigatoka in these areas by more than 44 percent.

"Black Sigatoka is caused by a fungus (Pseudocercospora fijiensis) whose life cycle is strongly determined by weather and microclimate,” said Dr. Daniel Bebber of the University of Exeter. “This research shows that climate change has made temperatures better for spore germination and growth, and it’s made crop canopies wetter, raising the risk of Black Sigatoka infection.”

If you’re wondering how this impacts you, here’s why. Infected plants produce up to 80 percent less fruit, which means a smaller banana crop and potentially higher prices. Besides being a delicious fruit and plant-based staple, bananas offer a high level of potassium, magnesium, and can even help you sleep better. Plus they’re an easily digestible source of carbohydrates, making them the ideal pre- or mid-workout fuel.

As noted in the abstract, the researchers did not attempt to predict the potential effects of the spread and impact of Black Sigatoka beyond bananas, but we get the picture.

If lessening your carbon footprint seems like a daunting task, we've got your back. Here are some small changes you can make for the environment that are actually doable.

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