The End of Chocolate?

Catches up on the news, I found something very disturbing January 2, 2018 on the Food and Wine website.

Scientists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) are predicting the source of chocolate, the cacao plant, is likely to go extinct, perhaps as early as 2050.

The culprit is global warming.  Most of the world’s chocolate comes from the rainforests of West Africa.  But as temperatures rise, the cacao farms will be forced to higher elevations, which will either put them into areas unsuited to cultivation or in direct conflict with wildlife reservations.  The NOAA has gone so far as to predict that 89.5% of land currently used for cacao will no longer be suitable by mid-century.  Fortunately, we won’t have a problem any earlier because the present generation of cacao plants will not be affected.

What to do?  First, there is some time to concentrate on finding specific cacao seeds that are drought-resistant, thus increasing the growing range.  Also, the Brazilians have a traditional growing method called cabruca, which plants trees in the rainforest to protect the cacao seeds with shade.

But the best solution will probably be genetic engineering.  The University of California Berkeley, aided by the Mars candy company, is reportedly using CRISPR technology to modify the DNA of the cacao plants, with the goal of producing modified variants that will be able to survive rising temperatures so cacao farms won’t have to be relocated to higher elevations.

I don’t expect to be around in 2050.  But nevertheless they have my full support; no use taking chances with chocolate.

The complete article is “Scientists Expect Chocolate to go Extinct by 2050” by Elisabeth Sherman ( ) .


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