Scientists work with candy manufacturer to save chocolate from extinction

(WSVN) - (WSVN) — Chocolate is on track to go extinct in just 40 years, scientists warn.

Cacao, the plant that chocolate comes from, is in danger of disappearing due to warmer temperatures and drier conditions, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Cacao trees can only grow about 20 degrees north and south of the equator, and need rainforest-like conditions in order to stay alive, NOAA says.

Business Insider reports that over half of the world’s chocolate supply comes from just two West African countries: Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire.

But NOAA says that those countries will see a 3.8 degree Fahrenheit temperature increase by 2050. That rise in temperature is enough that it will force those chocolate-growing regions to push over 1,200 feet uphill into areas that, right now, are preserved for wildlife and do not allow cultivation.

The real danger, scientists say, is a lack of humidity, which cacao plants need. The projected rise in temperature means more water will be taken out of soil and plants, leaving less of that needed moisture for cacao to survive.

Researchers at the University of California are teaming up with the Mars company, known for Snickers and M&M’s, to save the plant before it’s too late.

According to U.S. News & World Report, researchers at the Berkeley school are using a new gene-editing technology to manipulate the DNA of cacao plants. If it works, it would allow the crops to survive in hotter, drier climates.

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