Changing climate may increase chances of chocolate going extinct by 2050

Due to dry weather conditions and warmer global temperatures the survival of the fragile cocoa plant is threatened and can be seen disappearing by early 2050.

Researchers are exploring the chance of using the gene-editing technology CRISPR to grow crops that can survive environmental challenges.

Scientists from the University of California are teaming up with food and candy company Mars to explore CRISPR technique to help tiny cocao seedlings survive and thrive in dryer, warmer climates.

Cocoa beans can only grow within a fine strip of rain forested land approximately 20 degrees north and south of the Equator. Humid rainy temperature is best suited for the growth of cocoa trees which produce cocoa beans.

Scientist say they are afraid that diseases and a changing climate will suck moisture from the soil and make it unlikely to produce a good crop in many regions around the world by 2050.

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The rising temperatures will push the chocolate-growing regions of the world more than 1,000 feet uphill into mountainous terrain by 2050, much of which is currently preserved for wildlife, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

According to experts, the problem is that most cocoa is produced by poor families who cannot afford fertilisers and pesticides.

“More than 90 per cent of the global cocoa crop is produced by smallholders on subsistence farms with unimproved planting material,” Doug Hawkins, of Hardman Agribusiness a London based capital markets advisory services firm was quoted as saying to the Sun.

“All the indicators are that we could be looking at a chocolate deficit of 100,000 tons a year in the next few years,” Hawkins added.

This story originally appeared on Business Insider.

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