Originally posted by Marcellus
Money well spent?
(context – Mars is actively researching the cocoa genome in an attempt to sequence it completely)
Definitely well spent – the more we know about the impact of chocolate genetics on flavour, disease resistance, etc, the more we can breed new chocolates that improve on these fronts. However, there are 2 significant potential problems as well.
How much of the research that Mars will share with others is unclear. I doubt that they’ll release all the findings, and worse still the releases that do happen could easily be, as so often happens – in the form of predigested conclusions, not the raw data, so that third parties would have to accept Mars’ interpretations of what given genetics mean. With the people perhaps best placed to take advantage of the findings to produce higher-quality chocolate – quality plantations and producers – being generally small, the result would be that ironically the very people who could use the data are the people whose access to it were most restricted.
We are all aware of the issues involving GMO’s. I won’t belabour that point. But certainly as the article implies genetic research does imply the possibility of GMO chocolate – for better or for worse. Without clear consensus on the actual value to people of GMO’s I think we must treat this possibility as problematic in future.
Therefore I think much of the benefit of this research is crucially dependent on how Mars plans to use it.