Chocolate Could Go Extinct in 40 Years

03 January, 2018, 01:44 | Author: Inez Murphy
  • Oh dear lord we might run out of chocolate in the next 30 years

Forbes reports that cacao plants, the natural source of chocolate, are in danger due to climate change and fungal disease.

CRISPR-Cas9 works by finding pieces of DNA, snipping it out, and replacing it with altered DNA.

According to a report from National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the changing temperatures around the world will make growing cacao plants almost impossible within the next 30 years. And the two West African nations that produce over half of the world's chocolate - Ghana and Ivory Coast - would feel the heat.

To help cacao survive, the genomics institute is working with food and candy company Mars, as part of the candy company's $1 billion commitment to reducing its carbon footprint. The company's chief sustainability officer, Barry Parkin, told BI UK his company is trying "to go all in".

She is leading a research lab at UC Berkeley that is using an emerging genetic engineering technology called CRISPR-Cas 9.

Jennifer Doudna, the UC Berkeley geneticist who invented CRISPR, is overseeing the collaboration. The acronym stands for "Clustered Regularly Inter-Spaced Palindromic Repeats". The other option is to start growing plants that thrive in the changing environment.

The team are also trying to tweak the DNA of cassava to make it produce less unsafe toxins in hotter weather. Late previous year, a number of outlets reported that global warming might make chocolate taste better.

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.

Since the 1990s, more than a billion people from China, Indonesia, India, Brazil and the former Soviet Union have entered the market for cocoa. The agency recommends focusing on farming specific breeds of cacao seeds that are resistant to drought and supporting more efforts to grow cacao seeds using a traditional Brazilian method called cabruca, in which additional trees are planted in the rainforest to provide cacao trees with shade-a critical element the seeds need to survive.

"All the indicators are that we could be looking at a chocolate deficit of 100,000 tons a year in the next few years", he said.



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