Company in the process of developing fungus-resistant banana

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Company in the process of developing fungus-resistant banana

A North Carolina company is developing a fungus-proof genetically engineering banana. The banana will be resistant to a deadly disease that is threatening to destroy most of the world’s banana crops. 

TR-4, also known as Fusarium Oxysporum, is a fungus that attacks the roots of banana trees and is resistant to fungicides and other chemicals. The fungus was first discovered in Southeast Asia and is showing in the soil of banana-producing countries. 

Elo Life System, the North Carolina biotechnology firm is exploring a gene editing program called molecular farming that can make cavendish bananas resistant to the fungus. The process requires scientists to take genes from healthy bananas in order to edit the genes of new cavendish bananas.

Related articles: LatAm banana industry fighting Fusarium RT4

Elo Life System is not the only organization trying to spearhead the problematic fungal disease threatening to wipe cavendish bananas off the face of earth. Scientists in Australia have creasted a modified fruit and are currently waiting for approval to release the banana to the market. 

In 2020, Elo entered a partnership with Dole, one of the world's largest fruit producers, to develop a banana that's resistant to TR4. The banana looks and tastes like the ones consumers are used to.

According to the FAO, there are about 1,000 bananas in the world, but Cavendish is the most highly cultivated and consumed. Cavendish bananas are the most exporter of bananas in the world. The top exporters are Ecuador, the Philippines, and Guatemala. 

*Editor's note: In the original version of this article, Costa Rica was included as one of the countries where the disease is present. However, this information is incorrect. Costa Rica is free of Tropical Fusarium Race 4 and is making an important effort of containment and prevention.

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