Scientists have bad news for chocolate fans, as climate change seems to be a huge threat for it. The constantly increasing temperatures put the habitat of the cacao plant in danger. This leads to an incredibly worrying prospect for the everybody’s favorite sweet treat, as it might go extinct by 2050. Therefore, researchers decided to resort to genetic engineering and find a way to save it.
Chocolate might become another victim of climate change
The only place where the cacao plant can grow are certain areas in the rainforest with special conditions, which stay wet throughout the entire year. However, climate change is a continuous threat to these regions. Scientists fear that it will affect the weather so bad that it would make it impossible for the plant to grow there.
This is an incredibly dire future for chocolate. The only way to acquire its unique taste is to use seeds from the cacao plant. If the plant is wiped out from Earth, we won’t be able to manufacture chocolate anymore. The only other place where the plant might grow are mountain slopes, but a lot of them are situated in protected areas where agriculture is banned.
Genetic engineering could turn the cacao plant stronger
It might be difficult to completely stop climate change, but there’s still some hope. The popular chocolate company Mars has plenty of reasons to save cacao plants, so it decided to sponsor some scientists to do it. A collaboration was born, and is meant to use innovative genetic engineering techniques to make the seeds of the plant stronger.
The scientists belong to the biosciences department of UC Berkeley. In their lab, they are hosting a series of cacao seeds. With the help of the well-known CRISPR-Cas9. By cutting down pieces of DNA and replacing it with enhanced genes, they might help the cacao plant better cope with different climates.