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Chocolate: Extinction Likely by 2050

Chocolate: Extinction Likely by 2050
Chocolate is in danger of extinction due to climate change in areas where cacao trees are grown. (hofack2/Dreamstime.com)

By    |   Tuesday, 02 January 2018 05:34 PM

Chocolate could become extinct in less than 40 years because of climate change in areas where the sweet treat thrives best. But fear not, chocolate lovers, bioscience has come to the rescue.

The places where cacao plants, necessary for the production of chocolate, grow are in danger of becoming warmer, drier, and less suitable for cacao cultivation, reported the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Currently, cacao only grows within about 20 degrees north and south of the equator. Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, and Indonesia are the world’s leading producers of chocolate. Cote d’Ivoire and Ghana provide more than half of the world’s chocolate.

However, those countries could experience an increase in temperature of 3.8 degrees Fahrenheit by 2050, making cultivation of the plants less suitable if at all possible, NOAA stated. Chocolate growing regions might be possible in areas 1,000 feet uphill into mountainous terrain, but those areas are preserved for wildlife.

But a $35 billion candy company and new technology have come up with a possible solution, Business Insider noted.

Mars, producers of Snickers, Milky Way, and other delights, has pledged a $1billion effort, “Sustainability in a Generation,” to reduce its carbon footprint by more than 60 percent by 2050.

The company is also involved in an initiative with the University of California’s biosciences center under Myeong-Je Cho, director of plant genomics at the university.

Tiny, green cacao seedlings are being kept in refrigerated greenhouses with the hope they can thrive in dryer, warmer climates. The project stems from a new technology, CRISPR, which changes DNA to make crops more reliable and cheaper, helping areas affected by climate change, according to Business Insider.

UC Berkeley geneticist Jennifer Doudna, the inventor of CRISPR, is overseeing the UC-Mars collaboration. Although her invention has been viewed as a way to rid humans of diseases and disorders, she believes it has more potential in the improvement of foods.

CRISPR is involved in another project to protect cassava, a crop that saves millions of people from starvation each year, from the effects of climate change by tweaking its DNA to produce fewer toxins in warmer temperatures.

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Chocolate could become extinct in less than 40 years because the climates of areas where cacao trees thrive best are rising in temperature.
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2018-34-02
Tuesday, 02 January 2018 05:34 PM
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