Chocolate Lovers Attention!
For the all the chocolate lovers this post may come as a little threat. Cacao plants that makes chocolate might disappear by the year 2050. As the planet grows warmer and dryer, some plants may not be able to survive.
Cacao plants can only grow on a narrow strip of rainforest land, where temperature, rain and humidity all stay constant all year round. Over half of the world’s chocolate today comes from Cote d’lvoire and Ghana, in West Africa.
Scientists at the University of California are collaborating with Mars company to work on the cacao crops and their survival as the planet’s climate changes.
A new gene editing technology called CRISPRR is being worked on to make crops live through the climate changes.
Is chocolate really going extinct?
The CRISPR technology allows tiny changes to the DNA of the plant which wasn’t possible before. The technology is already working on making many crops cheap and reliable. Developing world will benefit from this where people depend on plants to avoid starvation. Over time, climate change, lack of water and pests are slowly but constantly affecting the crops.
In the university of California, the experiment on Cacao is already underway. Cacao seedlings are kept in refrigerated greenhouses. If the experiment is successful, the seedlings will survive, also grow in dryer and warmer climate. This is of course good news for the farmers and also for Mars company that is working with the director of plant genomics at the university.
Additionally, Mars company is investing $1 billion in a new campaign which aims at reducing the carbon footprint of its business. They are taking action to preserve what their company depends on.
The company is also trying to develop cacao plants that won’t die due to climate change. This means they would be able to grow in rainforest land, where their growth is best supported.
Jennifer Doudna, a geneticist at UC Berkeley invented CRISPR. Her technology has received attention for its potential to eradicate human diseases. The geneticist believes that her research with lead to more benefits for the crops and food people consume.
The graduate students at UC Berkeley are focusing on CRISPR technology to benefit small holder farmers. One project aims to protect cassava — a key crop that prevents millions of people from starving each year due to climate change. In the light of climate change and the danger it poses to the world at large, more initiatives like these are needed.
Time will tell how much of a success CRISPR will be in coming years. For now chocolate lovers need to pay more attention to climate change and how it could affect the production of cacao.
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