Will This New Plant Disease Mean a World Without Chocolate?

A strange scourge called frosty pod rot is poised to wipe out cocoa plantations in Central America.

Will Frosty Pod Rot Mean a World Without Chocolate?
(Photo: Alberto Gagna/Getty)

 

A Canadian ex-pat with a passion for pop culture, Carly is a multi-published author, public speaker and screenwriter.

Not to scare you or anything, but OH MY GOD SOMETHING IS KILLING ALL THE CHOCOLATE. There’s a deadly fungus called frosty pod rot that’s threatening cocoa pod plantations throughout Central America, and if left to spread unchecked, it could completely wipe out crops.

This malicious plant disease, which debuted at some point during the 19th century, eats away at cocoa pods as they’re sitting on the branch, basically devouring them and turning them into a pulpy mass of goo. And while the disease used to only hang around northwest South America, in the ’50s it spread throughout South and Central America, affecting crops in Panama and steadily reaching plantations in Costa Rica, Nicaragua and Peru, and Mexico in 2005.

Apparently, frosty pod rot is also to blame for the decline of cocoa production in tropical America, and it’s a serious threat to cocoa plantations in Bolivia, Brazil and even West Africa. So in addition to curtailing your late-night binges, the disease could seriously impact the livelihoods of farmers in these regions.

But there’s still hope: Although the disease is in an invasive phase and poses problems for Bolivia and Brazil, which are already facing issues with crippled cocoa production, plant pathologists are working around the clock to help farmers battle this horrible chocolate-eating monster, and figure out how to keep it from exacting further devastation.

Good news for those of us who rely on chocolate as our go-to mood enhancer, antioxidant supplement and, of course, sunscreen.

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