Below the headlines about rocketing food prices and rocking governments, there lays a largely unnoticed fact: bananas are dying.
Not long after Panama Disease first began to kill bananas in the early 20th century, United Fruit's scientists warned the corporation was making two errors. They were building a gigantic monoculture. If every banana is from one homogenous species, a disease entering the chain anywhere on earth will soon spread. The solution? Diversify into a broad range of banana types.
The company's quarantine standards were also dire. Even the people who were supposed to prevent infection were trudging into healthy fields with disease-carrying soil on their boots. But both of these solutions cost money – and United Front didn't want to pay. They decided to maximise their profit today, reckoning they would get out of the banana business if it all went wrong.
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