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Endangered Species List: Chocolate? And Bananas?

tropicsTropical Locations fro Panama Disease as well as other funguses.

Tropical Plants:

When you hear about endangered species, generally, most people think of wild animals in the oceans, deep jungles and tropical rain forests. Apparently there is no un-written rule about what can or can not be endangered or go extinct. Two of the world’s favorite flavors have made this “endangered species list”; bananas and chocolate.

Both, cacao (pods from cacao trees, where the chocolate comes from the beans harvested from inside cacao pods) and bananas which are both also are grown in roughly the same type of region.

The quality, if not quantity, of the most sought after of these particular species of fruit and bean are found in the most tropical regions of the world. Specifically: Central America, the Caribbean Islands, and Northern Africa, as well as a very few other places just above and below the equator. For these plants location does matter for quality of growth and harvest.

When Considering Illnesses.

Very rarely are chocolate or bananas on any kind of problematic list. Salmonella was found in some chocolate candies quite a long time ago, there was a recall and only a hand-full of people got sick mildly or majorly.

There was a scare of Brazilian Wandering Spiders on bananas for a short period also, affecting the South American region itself.

This sort of thing with any food group is more typical than one might imagine, but once the issue is discovered it is taken care of in a swift manner, so as not to cause any more problems than they already had.

A Wild Sort Of Irony For Cacao And Bananas.

These plants, in and of themselves do not cause harm to human beings when left to nature. The problems described above: for chocolate happens after harvest, usually something mixed to make some sort of goody. For bananas, a couple wandering spiders allegedly hitched a ride on some banana bunches to Central America. Although the spider itself is highly venomous, this is still a very natural factor. A plant, crop or tree species exposed to environmental insects is about as natural as it gets; the other issues as stated above are caused by simple human errors. Not to make light of any of the problems, but they are actually common enouh to understand.

Thinking about all of these typical, natural issues a plant might face, both the Cacao Pods and Banana trees are in very real danger of another sort. Disease and sickness (that does not pass to humans) has afflicted them with various types of fungus.

Chocolate:

The most widespread of the fungus that attacks cacao trees is the Frosty Pod Rot. The distruction this fungus leaves behind is various disgusting coloring and mashiness of the pod that works it’s way through to the beans inside and destroys the product the world loves so dearly for it’s flavor of so many drinks, treats and various seasonings.

There are also other funguses that ruin so many farms, plantations and groves of this tropical plant. Some of the funguses include : the Frosty Pod Rot, Black Pod Rot, Witche’s Broom, Vascular Streak Dieback, along with a very long list of other fungus and diseases.

None of these diseases are pleasant to view, nor are they helpful to the survival of the plant most of us so enjoy. The tropical areas that these trees grow are the only places that can suport them. Although these fungus and diseases are responsible for destroying multiple farming locations; the plant is not yet in daner of extinction, but the cacao industry is facing a rather large decline in production in future years. Furthermore, there are no plans in the making of this product synthetically, all natural is all the world has of the lovely cacao plant.

Bananas:

 Bananas, another strictly tropical fruit bearing tree is in high danger of extinction due to the Panama Disease. This tree has already had one species of fruit become extinct roughlt 50 years ago. The disease that is rapidly spreading through the tropical areas is quickly making it apparent that the species of banana that the world enjoys is becoming endangered and facing a more than likely extinction. While there are still some other species of the beloved banana, they are not as robust in flavor as the one we consume now. Moreover, the bananas the world loves now, are in the same reguard, not as sweet and robust as the ones enjoyed over 50 years ago before their extinction.

Future Of The Tropical Fruits:

 The future of both the tropical fruits; cacao trees and banana trees are actually being budgeted into country funds for countermeasures against the funguses that are threaghtening to destroy them.

It is known that these funguses can be trekked into the farms via many means such as, other plant contact, insects, and even something so simple as human clothing carrying the spores.

Although, some measures can be taken, not all are effective. So while endangerment of these wonderful tropical species is very real, extintion is not exactly on the horizon.

The Possibilities:

The possibility that the funguses that are attacking the bananas and cacao trees are either very similar or the same fungus is a very distinct probability. Although the concept of the exact funal diseases is inconclusive, the similarities are unmistakeable. If it is true that the funguses causing the dramatic damage are actually the same but appear different because the plant difference, then  maybe the farmers planting them in close proximity of one another could possibly save them from inevitible extinction.

References (Background, Data and Photographs):

Confections sans Infections: How Candy Manufacturers Keep Chocolate from Killing You;By Evelyn Lamb on December 19, 2012; https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/confections-sans-infections/

 

 

The Impact of Plant Diseases on World Chocolate Production; Peer-Reviewed by Plant Health Progress
Accepted for publication 14 June 2001. © 2001 Plant Health Progress.; Corresponding author: John H. Bowers. bowersJo@ba.ars.usda.gov; http://www.apsnet.org/publications/apsnetfeatures/Pages/WorldChocolateProduction.aspx

 

The Impact of Plant Diseases on World Chocolate Production; Peer-Reviewed by Plant Health Progress
Accepted for publication 14 June 2001. © 2001 Plant Health Progress.; Corresponding author: John H. Bowers. bowersJo@ba.ars.usda.gov; http://www.apsnet.org/publications/apsnetfeatures/Pages/WorldChocolateProduction.aspx
Table 1. Estimated annual reduction in potential cocoa production by major diseases.; *January, 2001: value = $940.00/ metric ton. Source: The World Cocoa Situation, M. Taylor, LMC International Ltd/Trade Discussions (36).

 

Latin Times; Is The World Running Out Of Chocolate? Cocoa Might Be Extinct By 2020 And Latin America May Be The Solution; By Susmita Baral | Nov 18 2014, 12:10PM EST ; http://www.latintimes.com/world-running-out-chocolate-cocoa-might-be-extinct-2020-and-latin-america-may-be-276083

 

Confections sans Infections: How Candy Manufacturers Keep Chocolate from Killing You;By Evelyn Lamb on December 19, 2012; https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/confections-sans-infections/

 

The Impact of Plant Diseases on World Chocolate Production; Peer-Reviewed by Plant Health Progress
Accepted for publication 14 June 2001. © 2001 Plant Health Progress.; Corresponding author: John H. Bowers. bowersJo@ba.ars.usda.gov;http://www.apsnet.org/publications/apsnetfeatures/Pages/WorldChocolateProduction.aspx

 

The Impact of Plant Diseases on World Chocolate Production; Peer-Reviewed by Plant Health Progress
Accepted for publication 14 June 2001. © 2001 Plant Health Progress.; Corresponding author: John H. Bowers. bowersJo@ba.ars.usda.gov;http://www.apsnet.org/publications/apsnetfeatures/Pages/WorldChocolateProduction.aspx
Table 1. Estimated annual reduction in potential cocoa production by major diseases.; *January, 2001: value = $940.00/ metric ton. Source: The World Cocoa Situation, M. Taylor, LMC International Ltd/Trade Discussions (36).

Discover: Science For The Curious; FROM THE AUGUST 2002 ISSUE Endangered Chocolate;
The botanical battle to save an ancient flavor; By Patricia Gadsby, Dana Gallagher|Thursday, August 01, 2002; http://discovermagazine.com/2002/aug/featchocolate

 

Why bananas as we know them might go extinct (again);
http://www.cnn.com/specials/business/marketplace-africa;
http://www.cnn.com/2015/07/22/africa/banana-panama-disease/index.html;
By Jacopo Prisco, for CNN
Updated 11:52 AM ET, Fri January 8, 2016

 

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