Benign banana

HONDURAN scientists have come up with an ecologically friendly banana and named it Goldfinger. They maintain their banana is hardier than the more common varieties and immune to black sigatoka, one of the two major fungal diseases that attack banana crops.

"It (Goldfinger) could just be the saviour of our $150 million banana export industry," says Phil Rowe, who heads a banana and plantation improvement project at the Honduran Foundation for Agricultural Research. Officials say when Goldfinger goes on the market early next year, it will save more than $750 per ha annually in fungicides. The plant, a cross between a wild Asian banana and its distant Brazilian cousin, is also unsavoury to insects and other parasites (New Scientist, Vol 138, No 1869).

Like its movie namesake, Goldfinger is short and fat, but it is also, believe it or not, apple-flavoured.