New hope for ba­nanas

Waikato Times - - World -

The multi­bil­lion-dol­lar global ba­nana in­dus­try, at risk from a deadly dis­ease, could be saved by a sci­en­tific break­through by an Australian univer­sity. The Queens­land Univer­sity of Tech­nol­ogy has ge­net­i­cally mod­i­fied Cavendish ba­nanas us­ing a wild gene, re­sult­ing in strongly re­sis­tant and Panama

(TR4) dis­ease-free plants across a three-year trial. Trial leader Pro­fes­sor James Dale said it was a ma­jor step to­wards pro­tect­ing the US$12 bil­lion

(NZ$17.5b) Cavendish global ex­port busi­ness. ‘‘TR4 can re­main in the soil for more than 40 years, and there is no ef­fec­tive chem­i­cal con­trol for it. It is a huge prob­lem,’’ he said. The dis­ease has dev­as­tated Cavendish plan­ta­tions in many parts of the world and is spread­ing rapidly across Asia, and was found at a far north Queens­land farm ear­lier this year.

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