Are bananas man-made? Let’s find out!

Are bananas man-made? That’s a question that has been asked by many people over the years, and the answer is somewhat clear. Bananas (including plantains) are one of humanity’s oldest and most essential foods, having been cultivated since 4000 BCE in New Guinea. Bananas are divided into two categories: dessert and cooking varieties.

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Are bananas man-made?

Yes! The modern seedless dessert bananas of commerce are the end result of lengthy human selection in two species of wild banana, “Musa acuminata.” and “Musa balbisiana species”. In addition to having a greater variety, tropical people (who eat far more than they export) have a considerably wider selection.

  • The Musa acuminata – fleshly inside but foul-tasting

  • Musa balbisiana – contains many seeds but tastes delicious

adult banana plants

The history of bananas

From Asia to the new world

Bananas originated in South East Asia, with the greatest concentration found in India. Arab conquerors transported the bananas from Asia Minor to Africa and then to the New World by the first explorers to the Caribbean during 327 B.C. The massive production of bananas began in 1834, and it really took off around 1890.

1870’s and sugar

Before the 1870s, most of the land on which bananas were produced in the Caribbean had been utilized to cultivate sugar. Low marshland and wooded regions were drained in Central America as a result of banana mono-crops (which is growing one crop to boost output).

Bananas and politics

The founder of United Fruit had a marriage for political gain to the daughter of Costa Rica’s president in the company’s early years.

United Fruit began buying up the rest of Guatemala’s fruit companies after that. When the freely elected Guatemalan government officials threatened United Fruit’s dominance in the 1950s, the corporation convinced CIA staff that a coup was required. The CIA installed a right-wing dictator favorable to United Fruit in office, ensuring its grip on Guatemala.

plantation bananas

The Musa acuminata

Musa acuminata is one of the first crops to be domesticated by humans, dating back 7,000 years in New Guinea and Wallacea. It’s been theorized that Musa acuminata was originally cultivated for other reasons than as a source of food. For example, it may have been used for rope or building materials.

They were chosen for parthenocarpy (development of fruit without fertilisation) and seed sterility in their fruits thousands of years ago, possibly over thousands of years. This initially resulted in the first ‘human-edible’ banana diploid clones. When pollinated by wild species, diploid copies can still produce viable seeds. This led to the creation of triploid clones, which were kept for their bigger fruit.

Musa balbisiana

The wild-type banana species, Musa balbisiana, is also known as plantain. It’s one of the ancestors of today’s cultivated bananas, along with Musa acuminata.

The leaves of Cavendish bananas are typically more upright than those of other cultivated bananas. Flowers with red to maroon inflorescences develop. The fruit is blue or green in color, and they’re considered inedible because of the seeds they contain.

Is banana artificial or natural?

Bananas are natural, but the bananas we eat today are not the same as the wild bananas. Bananas have been domesticated and bred by humans for over 7000 years. The bananas we eat today are the result of human selection in two wild banana species, Musa acuminata and Musa balbisiana.

Did you know that Bananas aren’t the only foods that are man-made? Vegetables such as Broccoli, Corn, Cauliflower and Carrots are also man-made!

Are all bananas clones?

Yes, all bananas are clones. Bananas cannot reproduce sexually because they do not have flowers or seeds. Instead, they reproduce through a process called vegetative propagation. This means that new plants are grown from cuttings of the parent plant. All bananas are clones of the parent plant, and this is how they are able to maintain the same genetic makeup.

banana plantation

Why do we need different types of bananas?

Different types of bananas are needed for different purposes. For example, some bananas are bred for their sweetness, while others are bred for their resistance to disease. Some bananas are also bred for their size or color. Different types of bananas are needed in order to meet the demands of different consumers.

What is the difference between a Cavendish banana and a plantain?

Cavendish bananas are the type of banana that is typically found in supermarkets. They are long and yellow, with a thin skin. Plantains are shorter and stubbier, with thicker skin. They are also usually green or yellow, with brown spots. Plantains are typically cooked before they are eaten, while Cavendish bananas are typically eaten raw.

cavendish banana

What is the difference between a regular banana and a banana that is genetically modified?

A genetically modified (GM) banana is a banana that has had its DNA altered through genetic engineering. This means that the genes from one organism have been inserted into the DNA of the banana. The purpose of this is to change the characteristics of the banana.

Are real bananas extinct?

Bananas aren’t extinct, but new hybrid types such as the Cavendish may be under threat by a fungal disease, as was the Gros Michel variety in the 1950s.

Because modern bananas are clones, they are vulnerable to the Panama disease, which is caused by a fungal infection. Because the fungus was in the earth and could not be eliminated, many of the crops were destroyed. The Gros Michel is still cultivated today, however, it is only on land without a fungal infestation.

bananas at the market

How genetically close Are humans to bananas?

Because genes (the portion of DNA that produces protein) account for only around 2% of your DNA, while the rest is made up of “non-coding DNA,” it’s clear why our species would resemble one another. While a banana is 60 percent genetically similar to humans, we share just 1.2 percent of our DNA.

What killed the old banana?

Gros Michel was a success until about 1960. However, Panama disease, a fungus that infects entire plantations and causes a global banana trade collapse, quickly struck down the world’s entire plantations. The banana industry rapidly adopted a Cavendish banana variety resistant to Panama disease, nicknamed the Cavendish.

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Oliver Wright
Oliver Wright

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