SAN FRANCISCO (CBS Local) — Chocolate lovers may want to sit down before reading this because scientists are forecasting that climate change may force the plants that produce chocolate into extinction by 2050.
According to a report from National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the changing temperatures around the world will make growing cacao plants nearly impossible within the next 30 years.
“More than 90 per cent of the global cocoa crop is produced by smallholders on subsistence farms with unimproved planting material,” British researcher Doug Hawkins told the Daily Mail.
The chocolate-producing plants only grow in specific locations that are within 20 degrees to the north or south of the equator. The plants thrive in the rainforest because of its stable temperatures with high humidity, heavy rain, rich soil, and protection from wind. NOAA claims that the effects of climate change will gradually push the perfect climate for growing cacao into higher and less suitable areas.
Researchers add that over 89 percent of the current growing areas for chocolate will not be suitable for the crops by 2050 because of the lessening humidity around the equator.
In an attempt to save chocolate, UC Berkeley geneticist Jennifer Doudna is leading a team of researchers who are teaming with candy industry giant Mars to change the genes of the plant.
Using the gene-editing machine CRISPR, the team hopes to make cacao plants more resilient to the changing weather conditions around the world.
“We’re trying to go all in here,” Mars’ chief sustainability officer Barry Parkin told Business Insider. “There are obviously commitments the world is leaning into but, frankly, we don’t think we’re getting there fast enough collectively.”