January 20, 2018

Chocolate Is Going Extinct, According to Scientists

03 January 2018, 12:54 | Rodolfo Wallace

Credit PA

Credit PA

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in the USA, cacao trees can only grow within 20 degrees north or south of the equator, where conditions are just right - fairly constant warm temperatures, high humidity, high rainfall, low winds and rich soils, conditions one would expect from rainforests.

Apparently, scientists don't believe there will enough increased rainfall to make up for the water which will be squeezed out of the plants and soil, meaning that farmers might be forced to push the production of the cacao plants higher up mountains. Now, experts have put a time frame on this it could happen in the next 30-40 years because the crop will be harder to grow in a warming climate.

The Sun reports cocoa beans, which grown on cacao trees only thrive in humid rainforest-like conditions close the equator.

Using the gene-editing machine CRISPR, the team hopes to make cacao plants more resilient to the changing weather conditions around the world. The problem is most cocoa is produced by poor families who can not afford fertilisers and pesticides, the experts noted.

Mars, producers of Snickers, Milky Way, and other delights, has pledged a $1billion effort, "Sustainability in a Generation", to reduce its carbon footprint by more than 60 percent by 2050.

Credit PA
Credit PA

"We're trying to go all in here", Mars' chief sustainability officer Barry Parkin told Business Insider.

Berkeley's gene-editing technology, called CRISPR, has been in the works for a while, though when it gets attention, it's nearly always for the potential to eliminate genetic diseases or (sort of on the extreme end of this) build "designer babies". "Personally, I'd love a tomato plant with fruit that stayed on the vine longer", she said. One such project aims to protect cassava - a key crop that prevents millions of people from starving each year - from climate change by tweaking its DNA to produce less of a risky toxin that it makes in hotter temperatures.

Doudna established a company called Caribou Biosciences to incorporate CRISPR, and has additionally authorized the innovation to rural company DuPont Pioneer for use in crops like corn and mushrooms.

So enjoy your chocolate while it lasts!

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