Chocolate could reportedly vanish as early as 2050. This revelation has led scientists from the University of California at Berkeley to work with Virginia-based manufacturer Mars, Incorporated to save the cacao plant from disappearing.
Warmer temperatures and drier weather conditions are expected to be the root of the cacao plants’ potential disappearance, according to Business Insider. New technology, known as CRISPR, is being used by UC Berkeley scientists to modify the DNA of the plants. The crop’s tiny seedlings would be able to survive in different climates if the experiment is proven successful.
Cacao plants originated millions of years ago in South America. The crop is only capable of growing in the lower story of the evergreen rainforest, where warm temperatures and rainfall are plentiful. It’s also frequently victim to fungal disease and climate change. More than half of the world’s chocolate now comes from two countries in West Africa, being Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana.
However, these regions will soon become an unsuitable host environment for the cacao plant.
Mars, Incorporated is well aware of these problems and other related issues that climate change poses. This has led the company to make a $1 billion pledge towards reducing its business and supply chain’s carbon footprint by more than 60 percent, in a plan called “Sustainability in a Generation.” The corporation aims to accomplish this task by 2050.
Mars’ decision to collaborate with UC Berkeley scientists is a part of this initiative.
“We’re trying to go all in here,” Barry Parkin, Mars’ chief sustainability officer, told Business Insider. “There are obviously commitments the world is leaning into but, frankly, we don’t think we’re getting there fast enough collectively.”
Jennifer Doudna, the geneticist who invented CRISPR, is overseeing the collaborative effort with Mars, the company behind Snickers and M&M’s. While she recognized that some risk could come by using this technology, Doudna still believes that it could significantly influence the food eaten by people every day.
“Personally, I’d love a tomato plant with fruit that stayed on the vine longer,” Doudna said to Business Insider.
Chocolate is on track to vanish by 2050, experts say. Here, a photo illustration of a large bar of Cadbury’s chocolate is pictured on June 23, 2006 in London.Photo: Getty Images