Monday, October 15, 2018
Close  

Candy company, scientists team up to save chocolate from extinction by 2050

/ 04:01 PM January 02, 2018
chocolate

INQUIRER.net stock photo

Candy company Mars and scientists from the University of California are working on a technology that will ensure cacao plants can grow amid climate change.

According to a 2014 research from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, if “business as usual” continues, countries that produce cacao will increase in temperature by 2.1°C.

ADVERTISEMENT

The world’s leading producers are Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana and Indonesia. The African countries count for over half of chocolate production globally.

The higher temperatures in West Africa would mean a lack of rainfall, which will cause cacao plants to die.

FEATURED STORIES

A solution would be to plant on higher ground. However, as in the case of Ghana, agricultural land is limited because forests are being preserved as natural habitats.

According to Business Insider, UC Berkeley geneticist Jennifer Doudna is leading the partnership with Mars to save chocolate with a genome editing technology called CRISPR/Cas9. Doudna herself has contributed research on it.

Mars, known for M&Ms, Snickers and 3 Musketeers, pledged $1 billion to reduce its carbon footprint by over 60 percent by 2050.

Part of this funding goes to UC Berkeley’s biosciences building where cacao seedlings are stored in refrigerated greenhouses.

Under the supervision of Myeong-Je Cho, the director of plant genomics, the plants’ DNA will be transformed to survive in a dryer climate.

The CRISPR/Cas9, a tool which finds a target DNA, binds an enzyme called Cas9 to the DNA and cuts it.

Projects in Doudna’s research lab aim to help farmers in the developing world. For instance, cassava DNA is being modified so that the crop doesn’t produce as much of a harmful toxin when it is in hotter temperatures.

ADVERTISEMENT

Other potential uses are editing human genes—possibly producing controversial “designer babies”—and eliminating human diseases.  Niña V. Guno /ra

RELATED STORIES:

Gene editing advance reverses disease in mice

Britain approves controversial gene-editing technique

Read Next
Don't miss out on the latest news and information.
View comments

Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.

TAGS: cacao, Chocolate, CRISPR, CRISPR/Cas9, UC Berkeley
For feedback, complaints, or inquiries, contact us.


© Copyright 1997-2018 INQUIRER.net | All Rights Reserved

We use cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. By continuing, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. To find out more, please click this link.