I’ve seen Hell and I don’t like it

This is hard to swallow.

Cacao plants might disappear by as early as 2050 thanks to warmer temperatures and dryer weather conditions. They can only grow within a narrow strip of rain forested land roughly 20 degrees north and south of the equator, where temperature, rain, and humidity all stay relatively constant throughout the year. Over half of the world’s chocolate today comes from just two countries in West Africa — Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana. By 2050, rising temperatures will push today’s chocolate-growing regions uphill into mountainous terrain, much of which is currently preserved for wildlife. Scientists at the University of California are exploring together with Mars company the possibility of using the gene-editing technology CRISPR to make crops that can survive before it’s too late.

At least 60% of all coffee species are threatened with extinction. Two species in particular —Arabica and Robusta— comprise nearly 100% of global coffee trade and do not tolerate low moisture or drought. Warming again is causing changes to patterns of extreme heat and drought and will force the coffee industry to adapt or face extinction. Scientists think existing conservation measures, including those for key coffee crop wild relatives, are inadequate.

The banana is also dying. Fungal diseases devastated the banana industry once in history and it could soon happen again. There are more than 1,000 banana varieties in the world, but the Cavendish nearly monopolises the world’s trade. These bananas are sterile and dependent on propagation via cloning, which makes the Cavendish an ideal crop to grow at scale. Cavendish is now under attack from a recently emerged strain of Fusarium oxysporum, known as Tropical Race 4 (TR4). Scientists are also looking to gene-editing CRISPR to save it. To succeed, they’ll need to overcome another hurdle: opposition to GMO crops.

I can hardly imagine a world without chocolate, coffee and bananas. If such a world exist, it must be what they call Hell.


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