Who doesn’t love chocolate? Well, the sad news is, it looks like we only have a couple of decades left to enjoy our favorite chocolates; they might not exist by 2050!
According to scientists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), cacoa plants are going to be extinct within the next 40 years, due to climate change. However, there is one ray of hope in the vision: Mars – the world’s popular candy company which makes delicious chocolates like Snickers and the Twix bar- has teamed up with the University of California to save chocolates!
They have decided to save the future of cacoa plants by using an innovative method using CRISPR technology to modify the DNA of cacoa crops, reports the Independent.
Most of the world’s chocolate comes from the cacoa plants in Western Africa. The cacoa crops grow in the rain-forests of Africa, but the rising temperature of the world is expected to cause the extinction of the plant. One of the potential solutions for this is to move the cacoa farms up to the mountains. However, these areas are either already reserved for wildlife preserves or are unsuitable for the cultivation of the plant.
Hopefully, the genetically modified plants will be able to survive the disturbance caused by global warming, and the cultivation of the farms will not have to be relocated to the elevations.
Thanks to the observant eye of the director of plant genomics at the University of California, Myeong-Je Cho! He is working on the idea to slightly modify the DNA of the cacoa plants so that they can survive and thrive in the warmer temperature.
The $35 billion corporation, Mars, is well aware of all these issues and has always been vigilant when it comes to environmental issues. In September 2017, the company pledged a hefty sum of $1 billion as a part of an effort known as “Sustainability in a Generation.” The project has an agenda to reduce the carbon footprint of its business by more than 50% in next 40 years.
The Chief sustainability officer of Mars, Barry Parkin, told Business Insider, “We’re trying to go all in here, there are obviously commitments the world is leaning into but, frankly, we don’t think we’re getting there fast enough collectively.”
According to reports of NOAA, climate change will not affect the current generation of the plant but the next one, which means there is still time for adaption. But the results still seem terrible; NOAA alarms that approximately 90% of the land that is currently used for the cultivation of cacoa plants will not be satisfactory by 2050.
The agency suggests focusing on cultivating specific breeds of the cacoa seeds that are resistant to drought, and to cultivate the crop using the traditional Brazilian method called cabruca. In the latter, extra trees are planted in rain forests to provide shade for the cacoa farms, which is very important for the plants to thrive.
It is indeed hard to imagine a world without chocolates! On the plus side, it is great to know that scientists are already figuring out ways to combat the forthcoming chocolate crisis.
In the meantime, next time you take a bite of your favorite chocolate, you should take the time to relish it!