Is GMO in Cocoa a Thing?
The featured topic on Clubhouse Wednesday April 21st.
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.