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Scientists work with candy manufacturer to save chocolate from extinction

03 January 2018
Scientists work with candy manufacturer to save chocolate from extinction

Using the gene-editing machine CRISPR, the team hopes to make cacao plants more resilient to the changing weather conditions around the world.

Beyond the glittery glass-and-sandstone walls of the University of California's new biosciences building, rows of tiny green cacao seedlings in refrigerated greenhouses await judgment day. This will allow farmers to continue raising their crops without forcing them to look for new plots of land at higher elevations where the climate is more welcoming.

It's all on account of another innovation called CRISPR, which takes into account small, exact changes to DNA that were never conceivable.

Cacao plants involve a dubious position on the globe.

The trees can only grow within approximately 20 degrees north and south of the Equator - and they only thrive with high humidity and abundant rain.

African nations Ivory Coast and Ghana produce more than half the world's cocoa but are forecast to be hit by rising temperatures and droughts.

Yet, those regions won't be appropriate for chocolate in the following couple of decades.

This in turn will have huge effects on the chocolate production industry, according to according to the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Why? Well, blame climate change.

Mars, producers of Snickers, Milky Way, and other delights, has pledged a $1billion effort, "Sustainability in a Generation", to reduce its carbon footprint by more than 60 percent by 2050.

"We're endeavoring to bet everything here", Barry Parkin, Mars' central supportability officer, revealed to Business Insider.

Mars' decision to collaborate with UC Berkeley scientists is a part of this initiative. Although her invention has been viewed as a way to rid humans of diseases and disorders, she believes it has more potential in the improvement of foods.

The exploration lab she regulates at UC Berkeley is known as the Innovative Genomics Institute. Numerous efforts by graduate students there focus on using CRISPR to benefit small-holder farmers in the developing world.

Stockpiles of cocoa are decreasing, our current methods of farming aren't equipped to maintain production, and changes in the environment will make it even harder for plants to grow.