What claims to be the first pro-GMO chocolate – and possibly the first pro-GMO product of any type – was launched in February by A Fresh Look, a nonprofit coalition of some 1,600 farmers committed to "demystifying GMO farming."
Acknowledging recent reports that "chocolate and other ingredients we love could go extinct," the group launched Ethos Chocolate. Each of the four bars in the line features a fruit genetic engineering has saved, improved or could protect in the future. And they apply the same logic to cocoa.
- The Survivor features papaya, a fruit saved by genetic engineering in Hawaii after it was decimated by ringspot virus.
- The Hero highlights genetic engineering under way in Florida to help orange trees fight citrus greening disease, which threatens the entire citrus crop.
- The Trendsetter lauds GMO farming that paved the way for non-browning apples that stay fresh longer to help cut food waste.
- The Optimist acknowledges genetic engineering being explored to protect cacao trees -- like the ones in the Dominican Republic that make the Ethos bars.
"Chocolate could go extinct!" the group says. "What most people don’t realize is climate change and disease could push the cacao tree – or chocolate – into extinction by 2030, according to scientists."
A Fresh Look says there are many misconceptions about GMOs. It cites a recent report from University of Colorado-Boulder that found opponents of genetically engineered foods "know less than they think."
"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," said Rebecca Larson, A Fresh Look's lead scientist. "We want people to enjoy these delicious chocolates but also take a fresh look at GMOs."