Will GMO Chocolate Save the Cacao Tree?
The world's chocolate supply, in the form of the cacao plant, is under attack. Whether it is from climate change, diminishing land to grow on, or increased pressure from pests like bugs or disease, chocolate is facing an uncertain future. No one wants that, especially not the researchers who are trying to find solutions to all of these problems. Check out some resources on how researchers and companies are helping in the fight to save our chocolate!
Pro-GMO Chocolate Brand Shares How GMOs Are Saving Some of World’s Most Cherished Foods
A unique brand of chocolate bars called Ethos Chocolate highlights the benefits of genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Each limited edition bar is crafted with ingredients biotechnology and GMO farming has saved, made more sustainable, or could protect for future generations.
For example, the cacao tree produces the cocoa to make chocolate that so many of us enjoy, but climate change, warmer temperatures, lack of water, pests, and increased demand are pushing the cacao tree towards extinction. The cacao tree could go extinct as early as 2030.
Fortunately, genetic engineering is being explored as an option to save and protect cacao trees, and cacao is one of the pro-GMO stories Ethos Chocolate bars highlights. Check out the full story about the Ethos Chocolate campaign at BIO.
Chocolate could be extinct by 2050, but some companies think genetic engineering could save their supply
The world's chocolate supply is dwindling. As our global sweet tooth begins to outpace cocoa production, major chocolate companies like Mars Inc. and Barry Callebaut expect to see an industry deficit of 4.4 billion pounds of chocolate by 2030. And by 2050, the cacao seeds used to make chocolate could be extinct.
As farmers struggle to keep up with demand, Bloomberg reports that the price of chocolate has continued to rise, making popular items like Hershey bars more expensive.
To prevent that from happening, the nonprofit coalition of farmers called A Fresh Look released a line of chocolate bars that promote the use of genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Learn more about A Fresh Look’s campaign at Business Insider.
National Geographic Takes A Look at the Future of Chocolate
In the interest of your sweet tooth, check out this article from National Geographic that explains why "a chocolate shortage, to the tune of one million metric tons, is predicted to hit within the next five years" and why "it may be time to turn to genetic engineering" to save the cacao tree.
The world could run out of chocolate sooner than you might think
Climate change could make chocolate a thing of the past, as harsh weather conditions, drought, and land shortages could cause the world’s chocolate supply to run out. Both chocolate and coffee are two industries most threatened by climate change because demand continues to skyrocket while suitable land to grow the plants is shrinking. The cacao plant is a delicate one and can only thrive within 20 degrees north and south of the equator. The high humidity and rainfall in those areas are perfect for the cacao bean. Learn more about how climate change is affecting both chocolate and coffee at Earth.com.
Genetically modified cacao could stop the chocolate from running out
The world's chocolate supply is in danger of running out by 2050. Climate change could make conditions unsuitable for cacao plants to thrive and chocolate production would be unable to keep up with growing worldwide demand for the sweet treat. Every year, billions of pounds of chocolate are consumed around the world, and on average, people eat anywhere between ten and twenty pounds of the confectionery on an annual basis. Mars, the company behind some of the world’s most recognizable brands and bars such as Snickers, M&Ms, and Twix, has big plans in order to ensure the cacao bean is safe from extinction. Learn how genetically modified cacao could help save the chocolate supply at Earth.com.
It's not just climate. Chocolate is under pressure from pests, too!
Cacao, the crop from which we get chocolate, has many pests, but two, in particular, have been spreading throughout Central and South America leading to dramatic declines in production. The diseases are called Witch's Broom and Frosty Pod, and according to leading researchers, Frosty Pod alone "presents a substantial threat to cacao cultivation worldwide." Once again, the people at the most risk here are small-scale farmers, particularly those in Africa, should these pathogens make it there from the Americas. Business Insider has all the details on how pests are attacking the cacao plant.
What will future GMOs be like?
One of our GMO Answers experts, Steve Savage, answered this question submitted to our GMO Answers site. He mentions how thanks to new investment and new breakthroughs in biotechnology over the past 20 years, the cost of creating new genetically engineered plants has come down dramatically. He notes some examples of how genetic engineering could help provide solutions to a number of problems we are facing today: “Another extremely logical set of traits could be developed by using state-of-the-art methods to move genes within a crop species in cases where doing that through conventional breeding is simply too slow or complex. This approach could solve important pest issues for crops like bananas, coffee, potatoes, cacao (for chocolate), apples and pears, wine and table grapes (to name a few)." Read his entire answer about what the future of GMOs could look like.