Researchers Say Chocolate Could Be Extinct by 2050

Chocolate Could Go Extinct in Less Than 40 Years Due to Climate Change

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, by 2050 the rising temperatures will push the chocolate-growing regions of the world more than 1,000 feet uphill into mountainous terrain - much of which is now preserved for wildlife.

Well, maybe we really should savour every last bite of that soft, chocolatey goodness, as expects have the predicted the unthinkable, that chocolate will become extinct in 40 years.

Cacao plants require a rainforest environment with consistent temperature, plentiful rain, and high humidity.

As temperature rises and pushes more water off the ground, scientists believe it is unlikely that rainfall will increase enough to compensate for the loss of moisture.

Researchers at the University of California are teaming up with the Mars company, known for Snickers and M&M's, to save the plant before it's too late. Typically, more than half of the world's chocolate comes from Côte d'Ivoire, Ghana and Indonesia. The genes of the plants have been changed slightly, using CRISPR, in hopes they'll better withstand the new conditions, according to a story in Business Insider.

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".

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"We're trying to go all in here", Mars' chief sustainability officer Barry Parkin told Business Insider. One of the inventors of CRISPR, Jennifer Doudna, who's overseeing the project, has expressed concern about the implications of her technology and eugenics, but she seems optimistic about longer-lasting tomatoes.

The average consumer eats 286 bars of chocolate a year (it's not often we can be smugly "above average".), but in order to produce that number, ten cacao trees must be planted.

Doug Hawkins, of Hardman Agribusiness, says part of the problem is most cocoa is produced by poor families who can not afford fertilisers and pesticides.

Some reports suggest cocoa growers in the world's top producer country, Ivory Coast, have resorted to illegally farming protected forests to meet demand - what Mr Hawkins calls "destruction by chocolate".

"All the indicators are that we could be looking at a chocolate deficit of 100,000 tons a year in the next few years", he said.

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