Frequently Asked Question

Is M9 a GMO banana?




No! M9 is a hybrid generated by cross pollination of two parental lines with useful traits.

The simplest way to define a hybrid is to take an example. Let us say a plant breeder in the Banana program observes a particularly good habit in a plant, but with small bunch size, and in another plant of the same type he sees big bunches but poor resistance to a disease such as the Black Sigatooka. The best plant of each type is then taken and self-pollinated (in isolation) each year and, each year, the seed is re-sown. Eventually, every time the seed is sown the same identical plants will appear. When they do, this is known as a 'pure line'.

If the banana breeder now takes the pure line of each of the two plants he originally selected and cross pollinates the two by hand the result is known as an F1 hybrid. Plants are grown from seed produced and the result of this cross pollination should have a disease resistance and good good bunch sizes.

This is the simplest form of hybridisation; there are complications, of course. A completely pure line can sometimes take seven or eight years to achieve. Sometimes, a pure line is made up of several previous crossings to begin to build in desirable features and grown on until it is true before use in hybridisation.

So the M9 is a hybrid banana which is resistant to the Black sigatooka and also produces bunches up to 71Kg. 




The vast majority of the bananas currently grown and consumed were not conventionally bred but are selections made over probably thousands of years from naturally occurring hybrids. Cultivated bananas are very nearly sterile and as a consequence are not propagated from seed but rather through vegetative propagation, primarily suckers as well as more recently micropropagated or tissue cultured bananas. These factors, very old selections, near sterility and vegetative propagation, mean that these bananas have not been genetically improved either for resistance or improved quality and are becoming increasing in affected by serious pests and diseases.

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