A world without chocolate

Life Moments column
By Christine Bryant

If you love chocolate as much as I do, we may be in trouble.

I read a report today that scientists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration have predicted that cacao plants may go extinct as early as 2050.

Cacao plants thrive in West Africa’s rainforests, which is why most of the world’s chocolate comes from that region.

However, scientists predict that fungi, viruses and rising temperatures will push cacao farms further into the mountains, and much of that land they say is unsuitable for cultivation.

I take global warming and sustainability issues as our world population continues to grow seriously, but for one minute, I’m going to take the issue of losing chocolate probably a little more extreme than I should.

Can you imagine a world without chocolate? No oversized hearts filled with an assortment of chocolates on Valentine’s Day. No gooey goodness oozing from Easter’s Cadbury eggs. No chocolate-covered anything that makes whatever inside taste exponentially better.

There is some good news, however, in this dire prediction. Mars, the company that makes my favorite candy bar, Twix, is partnering with the University of California to develop a gene-editing tool that would help prevent tree farms from being wiped out. The cacao seeds, as one example, would be more resistant to drought.

That’s good, considering the NOAA has warned that nearly 90 percent of land being used for cacao won’t be suitable by the middle of this century. Even better, this project could help other crops suffering from bacteria or infections, like rice and wheat, according to one of the study’s scientists.

There’s always the hope that we never will have to worry about this possibility, along with the much more serious implications that come along with the way our world is changing. In the meantime, the next time I take a bite of chocolate, I’ll be sure to savor every last ounce of it.

Christine Bryant is a Messenger staff writer and columnist.

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