Chocolate is on the verge of becoming extinct due to viruses and fungi. Scientists all over the world are putting effort into finding a way to save to cocoa trees. These are trees that when in bloom, sprout large beans the size of footballs. These are the beans that companies use to create chocolate.
Cocoa trees need tropical environments in order to flourish. They grow the best in an area that is around 20 degrees north and 20 degrees south of the equator. However, fungi grow in tropical weather as well and are infectious to cocoa tree farms. After an infection set in, cocoa trees can develop frosty pods and black pods, which are not suitable to ingest.
Chocolate Depletion Is Already Beginning
Something else putting these trees at risk of extinction is the current climate change. With the rising temperatures comes greenhouse-gas emissions. These emissions change the condition of the climate in the areas that these specific trees grow. According to a report from 2016, these warmer than usual condition can cause chocolate to be depleted by 2050.
There’s more to chocolate than it’s deliciousness. Cocao is the means of employment for over 50 million people around the world. As a way to save the trees, Mars Inc., which creates confections such as Snickers and 3 Musketeers are working with scientists to engineer trees that are more resistant to particular viruses and fungi.
They are mutating the DNA of the trees so that they don’t carry the DNA that causes them to become infected. Scientists will use information from this study to alter other crops if there ever is a need.
The study will help researchers find trees that are fungi and virus resistant faster. Since it takes cocoa trees anywhere from five to seven years to grow, scientists won’t know whether these trees will be any better until they are fully mature.