Is chocolate on track to go extinct in 40 years? And the underlying question is…

Interesting piece of news in the Business Insider. University of California and Mars company announced a partnership to develop new GMO crops using CRISPR technology that could survive potential threats of new pests and lack of water related to climate change.

Using GMO plants that are more resistant (and more productive) in cocoa agriculture is not at experimental phase. Few years ago, Ivory coast researchers already released the ‘Mercedes’ cocoa crop which nickname was given after its capacity to grow much faster than ever. Currently, most of the farmers in Ivory Coast can’t afford buying them and are dependant of the Government or a major actor like Nestle to supply the providential crops.

Then, that raises another underlying question “What are the risks associated with increasing the GMO cocoa production in Ivory Coast and elsewhere to supply the world’s demand?”

What risks we should consider to assess:

  1. Disappearence of other aromatic cocoa varieties replaced by a single dominant GMO cocoa crop
  2. Food security: increased dependancy to only one crop would make the whole production more vulnerable to a resistant pest. (cg. Potato crisis in Ireland in 1845)
  3. Producers dependency to seeds/crops suppliers and risk of a major actor monopoly.

Also, if the hypothesis of a chocolate extinction in 40 years due to the impact of climate change is to be true, chocolate lovers should worry about seeing chocolate diversity dramatically decrease in the coming years way before that.

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