Is GMO in Cocoa a Thing?

Is GMO in Cocoa a Thing?

The featured topic on Clubhouse Wednesday April 21st.

TL;DR

Cocoa? No. (At least not today.)

Chocolate? A chocolate may contain GMO ingredients (e.g., lecithin from soy), but cocoa is not among them.

What’s the Issue?

Why am I taking the trouble to write about it if it’s not a thing?

There has beens conspiracy theory reporting in the “natural news” media that the industry plans to completely replace all the cacao trees in the world with GM trees and that this complete replacement would happen by 2020.

Obviously that has not happened. And it is not likely. It has been proposed but it’s not likely to happen.

The View From 10k Meters

GM in seeds (e.g., corn, soy) that need to replanted every every year makes more economic sense in industrial agriculture than using GM techniques to replace tree that take years to mature before they start producing fruit and even more years before they are fully productive.

The vast majority of cacao is grown on smallholder farms so the logistics of generating tens of millions of seedlings (perhaps using somatic embryogenesis cloning techniques) and distributing them makes no economic sense – arguably a better use for the money would be to simply pay farmers adequately for their labor.

An understanding of the cacao genome is valuable in guiding conventional breeding programs because it can reduce the amount of time required by a factor of ten to determine if a particular trait will breed true.

In the end, monocropping millions of genetically identical trees may seem like a solution to some, but preserving the genetic diversity is the best bet for the future of cacao and chocolate.


Reading & Resources

Genetically Modified Chocolate to Take 70% of Cocoa Supply
New initiatives seek to genetically modify 70% of the global cocoa supply. Buy only high quality organic chocolate products in order to avoid this threat.
My GMO Idea
Vita-Cocoa beans are cocoa beans that have been genetically modified to have vitamin A, from carrots, in them. So, when you eat chocolate made from vita-cocoa beans, along with sugar...
A proposal to upregulate genes to increase the amount of vitamin A in cacao.
Pro-GMO Chocolate Brand Shares How GMOs Are Saving Some of World’s Most Cherished Foods | BIO
Just one week before Valentine’s Day, a unique brand of chocolate bars called Ethos Chocolate has launched and is highlighting the benefits of genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Each limited edition bar is crafted with ingredients biotechnology and GMO farming has saved, made more sustainable, o…
Chocolate could be extinct by 2050, but some companies think genetic engineering could save their supply
The world’s chocolate supply is being threatened by disease and climate change, but genetic engineering could save the sweet.
Comprehensive List Of GMO Products
KSCO (1080 AM) is a radio station broadcasting a news/talk format located in Santa Cruz, California. It can be heard over much of Central California during the day.
This list needs to be read with a grain of (non-GMO) salt.

Featured image credit: original by Rod Long on Unsplash

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