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Growing a more sustainable banana

NPR interviews Assistant Professor Carla Ng on the impact of pesticides in banana plantations

Read the full article at NPR.

...Disease threatens the Cavendish banana, too. A similar fungal strain to Panama disease, called Tropical Race 4, has decimated banana crops in recent years. So conventional banana cultivation relies on a mix of fungicides, herbicides and nematocides, says Carla Ng, an environmental engineer at the University of Pittsburgh who has studied pesticide runoff from banana farms.

Ng says that the levels of pesticides that wind up in your banana are regulated to be within a safe range for consumption. But her research has found that pesticides sprayed on conventional banana crops can put surrounding ecosystems at risk.

"Even when the fruit are perfectly well below [pesticide limits for humans], you can still reach peak concentrations in the environment that are above critical toxic thresholds," Ng says. She says pesticide runoff from bananas can wind up concentrating in waterways, threatening fish and other water dwellers.

Contact: Paul Kovach