Chiquita and WUR join forces in global fight against Panama disease

Scientists from across the world gathered in Boston, USA on 28 July. The reason: to share research results and discuss how to best tackle Fusarium Wilt. This pathogen causes so-called Tropical Race 4 (TR4). About 100 specialists and 15 speakers shared their experiences and discussed what is needed to combat this disease. 
 
 
 
Fusarium Wilt, or Panama disease, is caused by the Fusarium soil fungus. This fungus infects the roots and affects the circulatory system of banana plants. Eventually, it kills the plant. The TR4 fungus is not only a threat to the Cavendish banana, which is cultivated the most, but also for other banana varieties. Bananas are one of the most important food crops in the world. They are also the world's most eaten fruit. A joint approach is, therefore, necessary to combat the spread of TR4.
 
No effective treatment
Professor Gert Kema of the Dutch Wageningen University & Research (WUR) and Prof. André Drenth of the University of Queensland, Brisbane, in Australia, are two authorities in the area of banana diseases. The led the session, which made up part of the International Congress about Phytopathology (ICPP). Gert Kema: "The aim is to find a permanent solution for the dreaded TR4. Currently, there is no effective treatment for TR4 once a banana plant is infected. The only defence is to prevent its transmission from contaminated soil and materials and infected plants to clean areas."
 
Permanent, lasting solution
The congress was opened by Andrew Biles of Chiquita. This company backed the event. They made it possible for scientists, researchers, company representatives, and officials from across the globe to meet. These people discussed solutions for dealing with this serious disease. "TR4 knows no boundaries in our internationally connected world. The spread of this disease, especially in South-East Asia, is well-recorded by the FAO. This disease can occur anywhere. It threatens small and large plantations, rich and poor. We want to help find a lasting solution for this threat against the banana sector. Banana production has not stopped, but it can be significantly affected. Now we need to take action together", said Andrew Biles.

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