Here We Go Again: Genetically Engineered Banana Narrative Pushed by GMO Lobby
“The banana is dying and only GM can save it” is a recurring crisis narrative of the GMO lobby – but the real answers to the problem of disease in bananas go unmentioned.
By CLAIRE ROBINSON
Groundhog Day was a 1993 American comedy film starring Bill Murray as a weatherman who accepts an assignment to cover the annual Groundhog Day event – the groundhog being an animal that was superstitiously believed to be able to predict the weather. Once at the event, Murray’s character finds himself caught in a time loop. He is doomed to repeat the same day over and over until he learns a lesson that eludes him up until that time. That lesson finally turns out to be that he should place the needs of others above his own selfish desires. The term “Groundhog Day” is now used to describe any recurring situation.
At GMWatch we often find ourselves in a Groundhog Day of the GMO lobby’s making, as the same old “crisis narratives” with fairytale GMO “solutions” pop up every few years. These narratives promote GM as the only solution to some otherwise intractable problem. One is “GMO golden rice will save the third world from vitamin A deficiency“; another is “GM cassava is our only hope” for feeding Africa by defeating cassava viruses. Needless to say, the much-touted GMO “solutions” to these problems have yet to manifest. Meanwhile non-GMO solutions have long been available and could be rolled out more widely if adequately funded.
Now Wired magazine is promoting one of the recurring GMO fairytales, in the shape of an article called, “The banana is dying. The race is on to reinvent it before it’s too late”. The story is the newest incarnation of a recurring crisis narrative, “Only GM can save the banana”. The “crisis” is that the most commercially popular banana variety, the Cavendish, is falling victim to a fungal disease. GMO proponents claim that genetically engineering the banana to resist the fungus is our only hope to prevent the banana going extinct. This story first surfaced nearly two decades ago but has been updated for our time by replacing boring old “GM” with the exciting “new GM” technique of genome editing.