November 15, 2010
A recent foreign survey has uncovered the shocking truth,
apparently, that women think about chocolate more than sex!
Will women think the way in the future
once they realize that the majority of the world's chocolate has
been genetically modified?
Researchers working with
Mars are scouring the genome of the tree
Theobroma cacao to find ways of genetically manipulating cocoa
beans produced by the plant.
Scientists took two years to unlock the genetic code of the tree
and now hope to use the information it contains to alter the
quality, flavor and even the nutritional value of the beans
which are used to produce chocolate.
"Chocolate will become something quite different in 10-15-20
years and we are on that track now," stated Dr Howard-Yara
Shapiro, global director of plant science and research at
Cocoa Genome Will Lead to Chocolate That
Can Improve Your Health
Under the guise of increasing
and the health qualities of chocolate, Shapiro and his team
are playing the game of genetic roulette as so eloquently defined by
"It is not something we can deliver
tomorrow, but maybe in five years we can. Having the genome will
speed up the process because we will be able to locate which
genes are responsible for high levels of flavonols and help us
select for those plants," said Shapiro.
Dr Shapiro, who is also a professor of
environmental sciences at the University of California, persuaded
Mars to fund the $10 million project to decode the genome, with the
help of computer firm IBM, which analyzed the data, and the US
Department of Agriculture.
In a little over two years they were able to disentangle the 420
million units of DNA that make up the plant and in an unusual move
for a private company.
Traditional breeding techniques can take years to produce trees with
the traits they want as thousands of plants must be bred together
and then breeders have to wait for the offspring to grow into adult
trees before they can see if they have the required physical traits.
Mars said they initially intended to use natural breeding of the
cocoa plants rather than genetic engineering to produce new
varieties of trees with boosted traits, but its clear they chose the
latter due to the speed generated from genetically modified
“Rather than having to wait until
those trees grow up over five years or so to look at the
physical traits of the trees, we can instead take the DNA from
the sapling once it sprouts and find out what traits it has.
"It speeds up that screening process hugely.
“We are still going to have to breed millions of trees and
evaluate every single one, but we will very carefully and slowly
add traits to the plants that will be sent out to the farmers.
There are currently three million tonnes
of cocoa produced every year, but the crops are vulnerable to pests
and disease, often causing hundreds of millions of pounds worth of
Scientific studies on the health benefits of currently available
chocolate have provided mixed results and last week the European
Food Safety Authority ruled that manufacturers should not be allowed
to advertise these health benefits due to the inconsistent evidence.