Great chocolatiers have always been a bit like mad scientists, and now they might just have the science to begin creating the perfect chocolate bar.
Fast Company reports that a team of French scientists has unlocked the genetic code of chocolate. And not just any chocolate, but the DNA of Theobroma cacao, a species of cacao used primarily to make gourmet dark chocolate.
By sequencing the genome of a cacao tree, the scientists should be able to create bio-engineered fine cocoa that is resistant to disease. The price of cocoa would then theoretically go down. And because cocoa is one of the main ingredients used to make chocolate, that means we'd be looking at cheaper fine-chocolate bars. That's the reason this study was underwritten by Hershey's Corp. and Valrhona.
An interesting question is whether there would be a differentiation between genetically engineered cocoa and naturally occurring cocoa. The chocolate market is like the coffee market, with plenty of fair-trade and small-batch companies attempting to provide a tree-to-chocolate-store approach.
But in a world where pest-resistant and frost-resistant crops are commonly accepted, is disease-resistent cacao really such a foreign concept? Do you care if your chocolate bar is genetically engineered if it tastes exactly the same?
[Image via Flickr: EverJean]