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Candy Company Enlists Genetic Engineers To Save Chocolate from Extinction

03 January 2018

Scientists now predict that chocolate - which POTUS will sometimes eat to celebrate making important military decisions - could become impossible to grow in the coming decades because of hotter temperatures and less rain in regions where cacao plants are cultivated. And the two West African nations that produce over half of the world's chocolate - Ghana and Ivory Coast - would feel the heat.

Mars pledged $1 billion to an effort to reduce its carbon footprint, and part of that is going to a lab at UC Berkeley's biosciences building.

"We're endeavoring to bet everything here", Barry Parkin, Mars' central supportability officer, revealed to Business Insider.

This could be used to make cocao plants better suited to their new environment by isolating the genes that make this plant so fragile and replacing them with ones that can withstand climate change. The research of Jennifer Doudna, who works at UC Berkeley, was important to the creation of the gene-editing technology (but a heated legal battle concluded that the patent belonged to the Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT.) Doudna will be working on the chocolate-preservation project as well.

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The team are also trying to tweak the DNA of cassava to make it produce less unsafe toxins in hotter weather.

Chocolate could be extinct in 40 years, according to Forbes.

With demand increasing every year, the supply has not been able to keep up.

Different strains of cacao lack the genetic variety to bolster the plants' resistance to such maladies as witches' broom, frosty pod rot, cocoa pod borer and cocoa swollen shoot.

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Doug Hawkins, of Hardman Agribusiness, says part of the problem is most cocoa is produced by poor families who can not afford fertilisers and pesticides.

He said: "Unlike other tree crops that have benefited from the development of modern crops with high yields and crop management techniques, more than 90% of world cocoa crops are produced by small farmers in virgin fields".

The Sun reports cocoa beans, which grown on cacao trees only thrive in humid rainforest-like conditions close the equator. "All the indicators are that we could be looking at a chocolate deficit of 100,000 tons a year in the next few years", Hawkins added.

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Candy Company Enlists Genetic Engineers To Save Chocolate from Extinction