Chocolate is in danger of becoming a commodity, according to a report made by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. According to the organization, climate change can limit and eventually kill off cacao trees by 2050. The prospect is grim to say the least, especially considering that our social fabric is so intertwined with chocolate consumption at this point that imagining a future without the sweet is impossible. However, there are people who are trying to prevent this scenario from ever happening. Scientists from the University of California-Berkeley partnered up with chocolate company, Mars Inc. to prevent the cacao trees decline.
Cacao trees are able to grow normally only under certain conditions, the NOAA stated. These conditions include high temperatures, high humidity, constant rainfall and nitrogen-rich soil. Thus, the best spots for cultivating cocoa are 20 degrees of land north and south of the equator. These are the same locations that will be rendered hotter and drier by global warming in the next couple of decades.
“In other words, as higher temperatures squeeze more water out of soil and plants, it’s unlikely that rainfall will increase enough to offset the moisture loss,” the NOAA notes.
Berkeley scientists are currently testing a new gene-editing technology called CRISPR to alter the DNA of the cacao plants and make them resistant to drier and hotter climates.
Cacao trees are highly vulnerable to climate change mainly due to their reliance on a small patch of “rainforested land” that grows smaller each year.
Barry Parkin, Mars’ chief sustainability officer, has said that the company is fully invested in maintaining the cocoa tree’s sustainability. Mars has been a firm opponent against climate change having pledged $1 billion in a programme called “Sustainability in a Generation” which seeks to reduce the carbon footprint of the company and its supply chain by 60 percent by 2050.
Image Source: Pixabay
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