WASHINGTON, U.S. — A Fresh Look, a nonprofit coalition of over 1,600 farmers committed to demystifying GMO farming, launched a new line of chocolate bars today called Ethos Chocolate. The limited-edition chocolate bars are handcrafted by an award-winning, single-estate chocolatier and do more than just taste good – they tell an important story. Each of the four bars feature fruit GMO farming has saved, improved, or could protect in the future.
Ethos Chocolate is launching just in time for Valentine’s Day, a chocolate lover’s holiday. In fact, Valentine’s Day is the third biggest holiday for a $22 billion U.S. chocolate candy industry, according to a recent report from market research firm Packaged Facts.
The cacao tree, which produces the cocoa used to make the chocolate Americans love, is currently threatened by the impact of climate change, including a lack of water, warmer temperatures and pests. Cacao is on track to go extinct by 2050, with some reports predicting as early as 20301. Genetic engineering may be the solution to save the cacao trees used to make Ethos Chocolate bars, as well as the cocoa that goes into all chocolate.
“We know many Americans are passionate about chocolate, so we’ve created a product to tangibly illustrate the benefits of a technology that is often misunderstood,” said lead scientist Rebecca Larson, Ph.D., for A Fresh Look. “Chocolate is worth saving, so what could be a better embodiment of the benefits of biotechnology than creating our own line of chocolates to tell that story,” said Larson.
Ethos Chocolate bars contain sustainably grown cacao from the Dominican Republic and each is symbolic of a GMO crop story, demonstrating how technology has played – or is currently playing — a heroic role in solving a real-world food challenge:
- The Optimist – Genetic engineering is being explored to protect cacao trees like the ones in the Dominican Republic that make the Ethos bars.
- The Survivor – GMOs saved the entire papaya industry in Hawaii after it was decimated by papaya ring spot virus.
- The Hero – GMO researchers are working to help Florida orange trees fight the citrus greening disease which threatens the entire citrus crop.
- The Trendsetter – GMO farming paved the way for non-browning apples that stay fresh longer to help cut food waste.
“I know first-hand how challenging it is to maintain cacao orchards,” said Eric Reid, cacao grower and owner of SPAGnVOLA Chocolatiers which created Ethos Chocolate. “As a single-estate chocolatier, I understand how the finest chocolates are derived from the hands of farmers. We must take care of the cacao plant if we want to continue enjoying one of the world’s most cherished foods.”
Genetic modification is the most precise crop improvement technique to selectively cultivate crops with desirable traits that already occur elsewhere in nature, such as drought tolerance or insect resistance. Over the last 20 years GMOs have been proven safe by the American Medical Association, the National Academy of Sciences, the European Commission and the World Health Organization. GMO innovations have allowed farmers to increase crop yields, reduce pesticides, use less water and enhance nutrition.
“We want to help educate the public on the value of GMO farming and the positive impact biotechnology can have on a local and global scale, like slashing pesticide use an average of 37 percent worldwide. We want people to enjoy these delicious chocolates, but also take a fresh look at GMOs,” said Larson.