The Panama disease is quite real and it started several years ago, but this isn't the first case like this we've seen. Central America is like a comedy of errors with regards to agricultural commodities.
Cacao was grown extensively as a cash crop and now has Monilinia (brown rot). Old cacao orchards can be found all over Central America abandoned. Coffee had always been a staple commodity in Latin America. That is, until Vietnam hit the production market (at the behest of the World Bank) and prices bottomed out causing a lot of Latinos to go out of business. Honey bees have the double whammy of verilla mites and colony collapse.
You can pretty much assume that ANY food product that you can import from overseas cheaper than purchasing something local is eventually going to have problems (whether due to pest & disease issues associated with monocultures or simply bad karma catching up with bad economics).
This is part of what that whole "buy local" thing is all about. It isn't just shunning the long haul industry to save petroleum. It is also about not dumping your negative impacts on the world's poor. In other words, we buy local to keep any negative impacts right here at home where we're the ones who suffer if we don't adopt better practices. Of course this goes for positive impacts as well.
I guess that means if I had to prioritize between buying local and buying organic, I'd put buying local as more important because I know that any associated problems with local produce will be right here at home where the wealthiest people in the world live. Guess who is better equipped to deal with those problems when pressed?
Principal - Terra Phoenix Design
I snoped it. it appears it only affects one variety, and isn't so grave a threat as proposed. I did however find out that bananas have very little genetic diversity and are vulnerable because of that. Interesting. I had a neighbor that kept his banana trees in the crawl space all winter and brought them out each spring. I can't remember if they ever actually made bananas for him or not. http://www.snopes.com/food/warnings/bananas.asp
"One cannot help an involuntary process. The point is not to disturb it. - Dr. Michel Odent
posted 11 years ago
Snopes also seems to have a very particular slant as well, like anyone else. For example, they cite Businessweek Magazine and one plant pathologist to label this entirely false, while the New Scientist and Seattle PI articles only suggested that it was a possibility. Besides, all it would take for store-bought bananas to not be available anymore would be a drop in "economically viability" either from this or transportation costs, since it's not able to be grown in most of the US.
I believe the Seattle PI article does accurately describe the sad sociohistorical background and environmental cost of the banana industry however, something that I certainly wasn't aware about until I did some research on my own. I actually did a presentation on this for an intro to horticulture class when I was in school (sources are at the end if interested in reading more):