Scientists Mention That Chocolate May Be Extinct By 2050


January 9, 2018 13:06 By Fabiosa

Chocolate has been around since the early 1900s. It comes in various shapes, sizes, and flavors. These days you can even make your own special chocolates and have them delivered to you. But there is a problem brewing.

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Scientists are warning that chocolate may soon become extinct. And they are not talking dinosaur-level extinction with flaming lava. Chocolate will not be available anymore because the plants that are needed to make chocolate (cocoa plants) may not be able to grow anymore.

The earth is changing

Earth is growing increasingly hotter. And the conditions necessary for cultivating cocoa plants are changing. At present, more than half of all the cocoa gown in the world is from Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana in West Africa.

These countries have the right balance of temperature, rain, and humidity required for growing cocoa. But with every year that passes, temperatures rise, and there has been a steady decrease in soil moisture. This is affecting the survival rate of plants and decreasing yield.

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The US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration suggest that a rise in global temperatures of 2.1 degrees centigrade could very well be the end of chocolate by the year 2050. Climate change is a real threat to cocoa.

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Cocoa plants are failing

There is a problem with cocoa farming in Africa. The farming methods have not changed in a long time. Doug Hawkins, of Hardman Agribusiness, notes that most of the cocoa grown in Africa is by small-scale farmers. And they do not have access to fungicides and insecticides. Also, farmers still use local farming methods that are not keeping up with the changing conditions.

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On the status of cocoa farmers and the future, he adds:

Unlike other tree crops that have benefited from the development of modern, high yielding cultivars and crop management techniques to realize their genetic potential, more than 90 percent of the global cocoa crop is produced by smallholders on subsistence farms with unimproved planting material.

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

Some farmers have taken to moving their farms to higher ground that is cooler. But the earth is still getting warmer and it will only be so long before the cooler parts become equally warm.

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Europe and North America remain the largest consumers of chocolate as global demand continues to grow worldwide.

Hope for the future of chocolate

Scientists at the University of California Berkeley are modifying cacao plant DNA with CRISPR technology. They hope that the plants will become better resistant to heat at the current levels where there are grown, thereby eliminating the need to move them on to higher ground.

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Chocolate giant Mars is also a major supporter of this endeavor. Climate change may be a global challenge and still might take a while to win. But there is some hope that the race against the extinction of chocolate will be won much earlier.

READ ALSO: 5 Health Benefits Of Chocolate: From Relieving Cough To Improving Heart Health