Sunday, July 30, 2006

Round-up Ready and it doesn't melt in your hands...

The world's supply of chocolate is threatened. With demand fueled by a large number of Boomer women reaching middle age (my theory) , chocolatiers are faced with dwindling supplies. Disease problems now affect about one fifth of the the world cacao crop.

But the shrinking global total could be cut by another 25 percent again, according to Randy Ploetz, professor of plant pathology at the University of Florida, if two different diseases spread from the Americas to West Africa.

They go by the names of frosty pod and witches’ broom. Both diseases are limited to the Americas but could easily jump the Atlantic on the backs of traders and tourists. “If they made it over to West Africa they could cause real problems,” says Mr. Ploetz. About 70 percent of the world’s cacao pods hang from trees in the region—and most of those hang in the Ivory Coast, the world’s largest cacao producer. [More]

One solution might be GM cacao which would be resistant to the pathogens. This idea horrifies those concerned with fair trade and small producers. They may be right.

But if chocolate skyrockets in price, I can see consumer tastes being less finicky.

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