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Voices

Announcing Ethos Chocolate:

The Sweetest Way to Tell the Story of GMO Farming

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We made pro-GMO chocolate! If that’s all you need to know, hop over to the Ethos Chocolate website now to check it out and grab some for Valentine’s Day before we run out. For those of you who prefer a little more explanation, read on

There may be countless divisions and debates around what we ought to eat, and how we ought to grow it, but if there’s any common ground we can all agree on, it’s chocolate. Parents love it. Kids love it. Farmers love it — at least we do — and we’re not alone. Globally, people consume more than 3 million tons of cocoa beans a year,1https://www.livescience.com/61754-chocolate-facts.html especially around Valentine’s Day.

But few of us realize that we could be among the last generations to even know what chocolate tastes like — scientists warn that climate change and disease could push the cacao tree into extinction by 2030.2https://www.medicaldaily.com/chocolate-chip-cookies-crisis-cocoa-production-plummets-can-gmos-keep-our-lives-sweet-310980

And even fewer people know that GMO Farming could be the key to saving the cacao tree, just as GMOs have helped save other imperiled species and delivered breakthroughs that are making farms around the world more sustainable and more resilient to a dramatically changing environment.

So, we thought, what better way to answer the questions about GMOs that we hear from the people we help feed than through chocolate? And what better time than Valentine’s Day?

Introducing Ethos Chocolate. It’s a fiercely sustainable and proudly pro-GMO chocolate line we cooked up with the award-winning, single-estate chocolatiers at SPAGnVOLA and their family-run cacao farm in the Dominican Republic. Handcrafted by SPAGnVOLA’s artisanal chocolatiers, Ethos Chocolate uses sustainably grown cocoa and decadent flavors from fruits whose futures are tied to GMO Farming: papaya, oranges and apples. Each bar represents a proven GMO success story of the incredible potential of GMO Farming to help us solve our toughest food challenges and save more of the crops we love.

Take a look below for the true stories behind each Ethos Chocolate bar, then head over to Ethos Chocolate to order some for yourself before we run out:

Cacao – The Optimist

according to recent reports, the combination of farming hardships and increasing demands mean the world may be significantly chocolate-less by as early as 2030 — that is, if consumers aren’t willing to take a scientific approach to the problem.”

Medical Daily: Chocolate chip cookies in crisis: As cocoa production plummets, can GMOs keep our lives sweet?

A life without chocolate? No one wants that, but it could be our reality in a matter of years. Cacao trees are not only suffering the impacts of climate change, including drought conditions, warmer temperatures and more pests and fungal disease, they’re also under pressure by rising demand. People are simply eating more chocolate than cacao farmers are able to produce.

But we’re optimistic — smart chocolate lovers worldwide have launched an international initiative to save this beloved crop, and GMOs could be the key. A new cacao variety could be modified to improve disease resistance, flourish in warmer weather and even survive on less water during droughts, all while preserving the same chocolatey taste we love. Scientists say GMO Farming holds tremendous promise to prevent a worldwide shortage or, worse, the actual extinction of chocolate. And thank goodness, because what sort of world would it be with no chocolate?

Papaya – The Survivor

We tend to take our fruits and veggies for granted, but in the 1990s Hawaiian papayas and the family farms that grew them faced almost certain devastation.The deadly ringspot virus was wreaking havoc on the crop and threatening its very existence. In just six years, the disease had cut papaya production on the islands in half, and family farms were reeling

Cue GMOs, to the rescue. Researchers from the universities of Hawaii and Cornell scrambled to find a solution in time, working together to produce the Rainbow papaya, a variety fortified to be resistant to the deadly virus.

“The innovation came just in time Following safety trials the GM papaya was quickly cleared by regulators and seeds provided to Hawaiian growers at cost and without patent or other costly restrictions. This prompt action saved the industry and today a majority of Hawaiian papaya, including most of the fruits imported into the United States and Canada from the islands, is genetically modified to be virus resistant.”

Cornell Alliance for Science: Learn about how public-sector scientists saved papaya

GMO Farming not only saved a beloved fruit, it helped restore the entire Hawaiian papaya industry and all the family farmers and sustainable farms it supports. That’s the kind of win-win survival story we should all celebrate.

Apple – The Trendsetter

Nearly half of the produce grown in the United States is thrown away.3http://sitn.hms.harvard.edu/flash/2018/arctic-apples-fresh-new-take-genetic-engineering/ It’s an upsetting fact, especially for the farmers who grow all that wasted food. But the reality is that many people just don’t like the idea of eating bruised, discolored fruits and vegetables. And when it gets tossed out, whether by individuals or by restaurants and grocery stores, all that waste adds up, even if the produce is still perfectly good to eat.

That’s why food and farming experts set out to help solve this massive problem using GMO Farming — by making sure one of our favorite fruits looks just as appetizing, even if it’s been sliced or bruised. Enter: the Arctic Apple.

“The Arctic apple is the juiciest newcomer to produce aisles. It has the special ability to resist browning after being cut, which protects its flavor and nutritional value [and could] mitigate a major source of food waste.”

Harvard University: Arctic Apples: A fresh new take on genetic engineering

It’s a breakthrough we need, and it leaves the rest of the apple just the way we like it. According to the weight of scientific evidence and regulatory review, “Arctic apple trees and fruit are no different from their traditional counterparts in terms of agricultural and nutritional characteristics.”4http://sitn.hms.harvard.edu/flash/2018/arctic-apples-fresh-new-take-genetic-engineering/ These juicy trendsetters are starting a movement toward fewer lunchbox snacks tossed out by picky eaters, and more of the food we farmers grow nurturing your body, and not the compost bin.

Orange – The Hero

Florida orange juice is a staple on American breakfast tables, but just like cacao, its days might be numbered. In the past decade,  what’s known as citrus greening disease – also called Yellow Dragon disease – has crippled Florida’s iconic orange groves:

“Citrus greening is a disease that hits close to home, as currently 90 percent of the Florida citrus industry is being devastated by it [It] is one of the most serious citrus plant diseases in the world, and once a tree is infected, there’s no cure however there are solutions currently in the pipeline.”

Ag Daily: Farm Babe: Citrus greening is claiming Florida’s farming livelihood. Can a GMO solution help?

While it’s a long process to grow and get new orange varieties approved, research is being done using GMO Farming to grow a heroic new orange tree variety that can fend off citrus greening naturally. If approved, this tree could deliver a rebound to Florida’s orange farmers just like Rainbow papayas did for Hawaiian farmers a few years ago. We’re sure rooting for it, not only so Florida farmers can get their livelihoods back, but so we can keep the OJ flowing on our own breakfast tables.

Bold Chocolate, Bold Cause

Feeding our families is already tough enough without having to worry about our favorite foods disappearing. That’s one of the many reasons GMOs hold so much promise. Countless farmers the world over already choose GMO Farming methods for the proven sustainability benefits they deliver, from reduced pesticides and energy use to cleaner waterways. But as these crop stories show, GMO Farming also represents solutions to some of our toughest food challenges, which matter to all of us, farmers or otherwise. We may be biased, but we’re all for keeping our favorite foods on the shelves and the farmers who grow them doing the job we love.

This Valentine’s Day, take a fresh look at the benefits of GMO Farming, all while enjoying some delicious, limited-edition chocolate. If you act fast, you can get a free taste for yourself and even send your Valentine a sweet treat while supplies last by visiting Ethos-Chocolate.com.

A Fresh Look, Inc. A family farmer-led non-profit