Can GMOs Save Chocolate?

Can GMOs Save Chocolate?

GMOs may be able to save chocolate. The bigger question is whether we want them to. Some researchers point out that creating an ideal GMO chocolate isn’t going to be easy.


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Biology, Genetics, Geography, Physical Geography

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If you're a chocolate lover, you might be in trouble. The treat boxes you get on Valentine's Day may have to change soon. That's because the world is running out of chocolate.

In five years, chocolate might be hard to find. One of the reasons is the changing weather. Another is that more people around the world are eating chocolate.

The Nature Conservation Research Center (NCRC) is based in Ghana. Ghana is a country in Africa. It is the world's second-largest producer of the beans used to make chocolate. Scientists at the NCRC believe that chocolate will be different in 20 years. It will be very rare and expensive.

The main ingredient in chocolate is cacao. Cacao comes from the seeds (also called beans) of the cacao tree. The first trees may have come from the jungles of South America. Cacao seeds grow inside pods that are as big as footballs.

Cacao Trees Are Hard To Grow

Cacao is very difficult to grow. It is hard to grow cacao trees in areas that aren't hot and humid. Another problem is that many diseases can hurt cacao. The trees also grow very slowly. It can take 10 years for a tree to reach its full size.

Homero Castro was a farmer in Ecuador. This is a South American country. Castro came up with a way to save chocolate. He made a kind of cacao called CCN-51. This plant is stronger than other cacao trees. It can resist diseases. It also makes many seeds. But there's one catch. CCN-51 doesn't taste very good. Some people say it tastes like wood.

Still, some chocolate makers may have to use CCN-51. Most chocolate is mixed with sugar and added flavors anyway.

Fancier chocolate makers may turn to GMOs instead. GMO stands for genetically modified organism. GMOs are plants or animals whose genes were changed by humans. Genes are what tell the body how to grow. Most scientists say GMO foods are very safe. But some people still believe GMO foods are unhealthy.

Scientists are trying to change the genes in cacao plants. The goal is to make the plants stronger and easier to grow. So far, there is still no GMO cacao. Some scientists say that it will be very hard to create perfect cacao in a lab. But it may be the only option. The other choice may be to say goodbye to chocolate forever.

Originally published by on March 17, 2015.

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Last Updated

March 13, 2024

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