Chocolate may go extinct as soon as the year 2050, according to scientists from the University of California, Berkeley. The reason for this catastrophe? Climate change is affecting the natural source of chocolate, apparently.
Not to worry, however. UC Berkeley scientists are collaborating with candy manufacturer Mars, Inc. in order to combat this dilemma before chocolate becomes completely eradicated from the Earth.
According to their research, cacao plants are dissipating due to higher temperatures around the world, supplemented with drier conditions in weather. Unfortunately, these conditions aren’t suitable for cocoa farming and might even put the processing of chocolate to a halt.
"We're trying to go all in here," Barry Parkin, the chief sustainability officer of Mars, expressed to Business Insider. "There are obviously commitments the world is leaning into but, frankly, we don't think we're getting there fast enough collectively."
Mars invested $1 billion to fight this climate change calamity back in September in an endeavor titled, “Sustainability in a Generation.” Their objective is to dilute their company’s carbon footprint by more than 60 percent in the next 40 years.
UC Berkeley plant scientist Myeong-Je Cho has cooperated with Mars in order to produce more resistant cacao plants using genome engineering technology, known as CRISPR. With this new resource, Cho intends on developing cacao seedlings that are more resistant and durable in a changing climate.
Jennifer Doudna, a geneticist at UC Berkeley as well the inventor of CRISPR, is currently supervising the partnership between Mars and UC Berkeley. She has expressed that although her invention has been viewed as the impetus to purge human disease, she believes it has the capability to solve food-related problems as well.
Trepidation over climate change potentially causing a literal meltdown of chocolate has worried the chocolate industry for some time.
In February 2016, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said that Ghana and the Ivory Coast, two West African countries that produce most of the world's chocolate, will experience higher temperatures leading to a melting crisis that could eventually wipe out chocolate in a little more than 30 years.
“The danger to chocolate comes from an increase in evapotranspiration, especially since the higher temperatures projected for West Africa by 2050 are unlikely to be accompanied by an increase in rainfall, according to business-as-usual carbon dioxide emissions scenarios,” NOAA said. “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.”
Isaiah Denby is a college freshman from Tampa Bay, Fla., studying economics and political science.