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Banana growers fight renewed extinction risk as lethal fungus spreads

Resurgence of Panama disease threatens one of world's most valuable crops

Bananas are displayed at a shop in Halle, Belgium. Eaten across the world, the fruit is grown in the tropics, from Southeast Asia to Latin America.   © Reuters

TOKYO -- Decades after decimating banana plants worldwide, Panama disease once again threatens to wipe out the crop key to economies across Asia, Latin America and beyond.

Vietnam will lose up to 71% of its banana-producing land in 25 years to a type of fungus called Fusarium, warned a scientific paper published in February by researchers from institutions including Vietnam's Plant Resources Center and Belgium's Meise Botanic Garden. Fusarium enters the banana plants through its roots and destroys its veins, causing the plant to wilt. The spores can contaminate soil for decades.

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