Chocolate could completely disappear within decades due to extinction of cacao plants

Ebony Scott
January 3, 2018

Over half of the world's chocolate now comes from just two countries in West Africa - Côte d'Ivoire and Ghana - and by 2050, rising temperatures will shrink today's chocolate-growing regions even further.

According to a report from National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the changing temperatures around the world will make growing cacao plants almost impossible within the next 30 years.

Experts predict that chocolate may disappear over the next 40 years because cocoa trees cannot survive in warmer climates.

In order to make the cocoa and butter required for that one person, producers need to plant 10 cacao trees.

The company has also joined forces with researchers at the University of California-Berkeley to work towards a solution. Yep, nobody can deny that climate change is real, and the warmer temperatures and dryer weather means chocolate could be extinct as soon as 2050. Cacao plants are already at a disadvantage given the limited area they can thrive in - within 20 degrees north or south of the equator, in a place with mostly uniform temperatures, high humidity, plenty of rain, and wind protection.

Mars, which would obviously be majorly affected by a drop in chocolate supply, pledged $1 billion back in September to reduce its carbon footprint by more than 60 percent by 2050. Using a special gene-editing technology, CRISPR, they might be able to develop a cocoa plant capable of surviving in drier conditions.

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Doug Hawkins, of Hardman Agribusiness, said fertilisers and pesticides were crucial to yield a good cocoa crop, but most cocoa is produced by poor families you can't afford these things.

"We're trying to go all in here", Barry Parkin, Mars' chief sustainability officer, told Business Insider.

Mars' decision to collaborate with UC Berkeley scientists is a part of this initiative. Although her tool has received more attention for its potential to eradicate human diseases and make so-called "designer babies", Doudna thinks its most profound applications won't be on humans but rather on the food they eat.

"By and by, I'd love a tomato plant with organic product that remained on the vine longer", Doudna revealed to Business Insider.

Don't panic-buy a load of chocolate bars because you're anxious they'll be gone next week.

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