According to a recent publication by Business Insider, Chocolate can go extinct in approximately 40 years. Although the publication headline was a bit misleading, the article incites us to wonder about the possibility of the cacao plant becoming extinct due to global warming.

The article focused on the progress that scientists from the University of California, Berkeley are making in the experimentation of gene editing (CRISPR). This is part of a $1 billion research program that Mars, Inc., a chocolate company, is funding to safeguard the future of the chocolate industry.

The researchers' goal is to make the cacao plant more resistant to fungi and viral diseases.

Chocolate makes the world go 'round

Fruits are covered in chocolate, chocolate is covered in chocolate, and people get covered in chocolate! Chocolate has become super important in our culture and people proclaim their infatuation in any way they can. While some prefer showcasing their love through art, others choose to get high by snorting it.

This society has a definite craze for chocolate, and we celebrate it on October 28 (National Chocolate Day in the USA). Because of its medicinal properties, chocolate can be considered a superfood. It helps lower blood pressure and glucose levels, improves heart health, allows for better cognitive functioning, and even reduces pain and inflammation.

Around the world

A report by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization found these to be the 10 major producers of cacao in the world:

  • Côte d'Ivoire: supplies over 30 percent of the world's cacao.
    • World Atlas reported that cacao is responsible for up to two-thirds of the trade revenue coming to the nation.
  • Ghana: Accounts for a sixth of the country's GDP.
    • farmers have turned to smuggling their cacao into Côte d'Ivoire due to low prices.
  • Indonesia: produced about 777,500 tons in 2013.
    • Experiences damages due to pod borer insects.
  • Nigeria: planned to increase production from 367,000 to 421,300 tons in the years 2013 and 2014.
    • A gender gap exists between farmers in the cacao industry.
  • Cameroon: produced 275,000 metric tons in 2013.
    • Many cacao plants have aged past the time of prime production.
  • Brazil: cacao production will drop another 15.7 percent by 2024.
    • World Atlas reported that Brazil consumes more than it sells since 1998.
  • Ecuador: Produces 128,446 tons.
    • World oldest cacao producer.
    • Artisanal cacao.
  • Mexico: produced over 82,000 metric tons in 2016.
    • Production has fallen by 50 percent since early 2000 due to plant disease.
  • Peru: produced 71,175 tons of cocoa beans.
    • There has been an increase in coca production which is forcing cacao farmers out of business.
  • The Dominican Republic: produced 68,021 tons of the beans in 2013.
    • Led the world in Fairtrade certified production.

Although cacao is native to South and Central America, West-Africa is an ideal location for the plant to thrive in, making it the biggest producer in the world.

Taking global warming seriously

Research shows that the cacao plants grow under very specific conditions. Business Insider noted the specifics: 20 degrees North and South of the Equator, where the "temperature, rain, and humidity" will be constant throughout the year. With fluctuating temperatures due to Global warming, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported that by the year 2050, the areas suitable for cacao plantation (in West Africa) will be pushed up about 1,000 feet - into preserved wildlife terrains.

Thus, causing a major reduction in production of cacao, but not a complete extinction of the plant.

The reason for why companies like Mars, Inc. are investing in research for the creation of new and improved cacao plants is because global warming could potentially take a toll on their cacao investment.

Our current president is not in the business of caring for global warming, he has been very vocal about his belief that global warming is a hoax created by China. During one of the coldest weeks in December on the East coast, President Trump joked about the weather on his Twitter page causing him backlash from the scientific community.

In instances like these, where our favorite foods are experiencing a possibility of extinction, we are left to realize that we have a responsibility to this planet and its citizens.

The United States is one of the10 biggest consumers of chocolate in the world. Being part of this list, we have to take initiative and be informed about where our products come from and what can be done to better understand global warming.