How dark do you like your chocolate? Probably not as dark as this news; there might not be any chocolate left to eat in 2050. A chocolate shortage is a looming reality, according to some experts.
Chocolate has and will always be our guilty pleasure. No matter what race or class we belong too, we all share a common love for chocolate.
Did you ever wonder where chocolate comes from? Do they grow on tree or does Cadbury and Nestle use technology for chocolate production?
Well, contrary to the popular belief, chocolate does grow on trees. It all starts with a small tropical tree, the Theobroma cacao, usually called simply, “cacao.” Cacao is native to Central and South America, but it is grown commercially throughout the tropics. About 70% of the world’s cacao is grown in Africa.
Already, the demand for chocolate is soaring higher than the ability of farmers to supply it. An average American eats close to 10 pounds of chocolate per year. An average Swiss person eats almost 20 pounds. That’s a whole lot of cocoa, considering just one bar of chocolate can deplete 40 cocoa beans from the stingy supply.
However, by 2050, we might run out of chocolate.
Researchers reported this week that cacao plants are on the decline thanks to drier weather and warming temperatures worldwide. Like coffee, chocolate grows well only in certain climates. For the cacao plant, that’s in rainforests around the equator and mainly from two African countries: Cote d’Ivoire and Ghana. But rising temperatures around the globe will make it difficult for those plants to continue to grow. And farmers don’t have the option to head to higher elevations because much of that land is protected for wildlife preserves. Thus, chocolate could become extinct by 2050 if action isn’t taken.
Increasing temperatures and drier conditions brought on by climate change could push cacao farming more than 1,000 feet uphill, cutting into forest preserve land that does not permit farming, the report says.
To battle the oncoming nightmare of a world without chocolate, researchers and scientists at UC California and UC Berkeley teamed up with the Mars Company (master behind M&M’s and snickers) and IGI. Together, they’ve begun to modify the genes of cacao crops that would allow them to survive this planet’s changing climate.
The team at IGI, working with UC Berkeley and UC San Francisco, are working on saving the whole world from a chocolate-less existence. They’re tapping in to DNA engineering tech to make cacao plants a bit more strong than they are today.
To do this, the crew is working with the CRISPR-Cas9 genome editing system co-developed by the executive director of UC Berkeley; Jennifer Doudna. This tool can be used to make new combos in plant DNA, removing, adding, and changing as such.
If the crew is successful there is very high possibility that maybe, just maybe, chocolate will survive climate change we won’t have to live a chocolate less life. Cross your fingers for more hardcore chocolate in the near future!