This is a guest article by Mannie Barling and Ashley F. Brooks.

Chocolate candy bars are still America’s, if not the world’s, favorite afternoon snack or craving. According to the publication Candy Industry, the “Top Ten” global confectionery companies sold more than $67.587 billion worth of chocolate in January 2010.

Although cocoa is largely produced in developing countries, it is mostly consumed in industrialized countries. A few multinational companies dominate both manufacturing and processing. The U.S., Germany and France make up more than half of the world’s cocoa consumption with the U.S. by far the largest consumer.

To no ones surprise, the list was topped by Kraft, Mars, Nestlé and Hershey. Nestlé chairman Peter Brabeck recently said, “Now that people don’t have a new television or a new car, they eat a bit more chocolate.”

In 2009, British sales of chocolate grew 5.9%, while American sales grew by 2.6% . In Belgium, a country famous for its high-quality chocolate, sales went up 3.2%. Surprisingly, China and Ukraine, neither known for a large chocolate-eating population, sales grew 18% and 12%, respectively. In Africa, Asia, the Middle East and Latin America, more new chocolate products are being released and sold than at any time prior.

The Swiss spend $206 per person annually on chocolate. British and Belgian spend $106 and $90, respectively. By comparison, Americans spend $55 each. Yet Europeans do not look overweight or obese from eating this tasty treat.

For 2011, Cadbury is projecting a 4-6% growth. Hershey predicts sales growth in the range of 2-3%, after similar growth for the past two years. The increase in sales and future projections have opened up new markets and new concepts, including genetically modifying chocolate to make it grow faster and reach market sooner.

Chocolate’s nutritional value has been trumpeted by recent research claiming that dark chocolate is rich in antioxidants, flavinoids, epicatechin and other ingredients that shield against heart attacks, stroke, cancer and diabetes. Recent grant and funding disclosures suggest that the research supporting these so-called advantages was bought and paid for by the chocolate industry.

There was a time when chocolate candy bars were pure chocolate, sugar and something special like nuts, marshmallows or peanut butter. But not so anymore. Most chocolate consumed in America today is essentially a highly fattening mix of refined sugar, high fructose corn syrup and milk from factory farmed dairy cows with an overlay of chocolate flavoring made from inferior beans. How can this be healthy?

To paraphrase a G.M. commercial for Oldsmobiles in the 1990s, “new candy bars are not your father’s candy bars, anymore”. And it only gets worse.

Mars, the makers of Snickers, Mars and Milky Way, has already altered their candy bars from pure ingredients to a host of synthetic addictive chemicals. The once pure Snickers and Milky Ways now contain 24 ingredients, 95 grams of salt and about 100 grams of refined sugar in a normal-size candy bar.

But Mars is not alone. Butterfingers and Baby Ruth Candy Bars contain 115 mg salt and 100 grams of sugar, five different artificial food colorings, at least 32 ingredients containing seven different forms of sugars (including high fructose corn syrup) and 13 different forms of MSG’s. The ingredients on the labels of the two candy bars are the same – only their “look” and packages differ.

Now, Mars is leading the charge to plant GMO cocoa plants abroad. The USDA, along with Mars and IBM have mapped the chocolate genome for the alleged purpose of making a genetically modified chocolate that, according to them, “fights heart disease and diabetes and won’t make you fat.” The real reason is to eliminate pests, much like Monsanto’s GMO Bt corn, soy and wheat, while getting the product to market four to five years earlier that Mother Nature intended. But, history dictates that GMO plants need more pesticides and lead to the evolution of superweeds.

This unholy partnership includes scientists based at the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) of the USDA as well as researchers working at IBM’s Thomas J. Watson Research Center, Berkeley, Virginia Tech, Utah State University and the University of Minnesota. The partnership permits the politically-corrupt USDA to fund part of the project (clearly pork barrel spending) to benefit the industry without the public knowing.

Mars warns that “unless more is done to promote sustainability”, there will be a shortfall of more than one million tons of cocoa in the next nine years. Pledging to use 100% certified sustainable chocolate by 2020, Mars finally admitted that its new cocoa “sustainability” drive is focused on “technology transfer that puts farmers first; innovations in agricultural science; and rigorous certification standards.” This sounds like a good mission statement but it is not true. It is not sustainable farming. It is GMO factory farming at its worst.

Sadly, this deceptive news release is translated into creating new genetically modified plants. If Mars were truly into organic “sustainable” farming, then how can it explain their role in mapping the cocoa genome and genetically modifying it. Rather than sustain farming, the “unholy” partnership intends to sell GMO plants around the world for profit.

Mars is involved in breeding projects in South America and Asia that, according to them, “will greatly speed up our process for evaluating and distributing new plant types [GMOs] that address common pests like cocoa pod borer.” This is the same language Monsanto uses to try to hide the fact that they are genetically modifying seeds with bacteria, toxins and viruses that require high volume applications of pesticides, despite corporate representations to the contrary.

At no time during any of its news releases does Mars ever disclose which bacteria, toxin or virus is used to split the genome for cocoa plants. It is likely either Bt toxin, E. coli bacterium or the Cauliflower mosaic virus (CaMV). None of which any of us want in our candy bars.

Recent tests have already proved that these gene “promoters” cause bacterial residue in the human gut that leads to illness and disease. This is compounded by recurring problems with Salmonella in cocoa. Also, in 2011, tests revealed that the pesticides used on genetically modified plants lead to birth defects.  Why would anyone want to eat a candy bar that puts bacterium in their gut and may lead to illness and disease in the future?

Advocating GMO cocoa plants is not an altruistic act to save the chocolate market as they are trying to portray. GMO foods are about corporate expediency and greed. Mars, IBM and the U.S. government will reap huge profits from the sales of genetically modified plants, especially if they can wipe out Mother Nature’s time-honored cocoa plants that have been the source of chocolate since time immemorial.

To speed the project, they released the findings of cocoa sequencing into the public domain in order to assist scientists to begin applying the findings immediately. Their results ave available on the Cacao Genome Database website. But the results read like an industry propaganda piece.

Researchers state that cocoa will no longer be an “orphan crop” compared to Monsanto’s GMO Bt corn, wheat, soy and rice in terms of focused genetically modification research. We guess all organic plants are now “orphans” in the world of genetic engineering.

If genetic scientists have their way, they will be saying the same thing about humans in a few decades. They have already genetically modified pigs and sheep and cloned cattle. The drug industry is now using human DNA mixed with animal DNA, artificially inseminated into goats, to extract milk containing drugs to be used on humans. All of this approved by the FDA.

But it is possible, following the present trend around the world to reject American GMO foods. For example, in June 2011, Peru declared itself to be a “territory free of transgenic and genetically modified organisms,” to protect the population’s health and preserve biodiversity and the environment. Other nations are following suit.

In the end, GMO chocolate may only be sold in the U.S. where its government is a principal partner in its development. The limitations of selling GMO chocolate globally is underscored by the comments of Dr. Howard-Yana Shapiro, global director of plant science and research at Mars, when he said:

“Chocolate will become something quite different in 10, 15, 20 years, and we are on that track now. It is not something we can deliver tomorrow, but maybe in five years we can.”

Dr. Shapiro, who is also a professor at the University of California, got $9.6 million from Mars to fund the cocoa DNA project. Why change a good thing? Does anyone really want their favorite candy bar changed so the industry can make more money?  Candy bars have already changed enough with the multiple ingredients, high fructose corn syrup and other unwanted sugars.

Mars, USDA and IBM intend to flood 70% of the global cocoa supply with GMO cocoa tree hybrids, despite clear warnings that most countries do not want it. In doing so, they are abandoning a unique method of cacao cultivation that dates back 250 years, presently employing more than 6.5 million people in Africa, South America and Asia, “in the name of science”.

Agroforestry in other countries operates in long cycles where trees yield their fruit or nuts for a hundred years or more without the farmer ever needing to plow the soil or cut the forests to harvest their bounty. Meanwhile, chickens, pigs and other domestic animals, that feed under the canopy of trees, can be raised and their manure used to fertilize both wild and domesticated tree crops. It is sustainable agriculture at its best. Scientists have proved that GMO plants destroy “sustainable” agriculture and everything around them.

Mars claims that the GMO cocoa will protect African farmers. Others, including the EU, the U.N. and many African nations vehemently disagree. Time and time again the UN has proven that GMO plants will not stop world hunger.

As one scientist noted, “Genetic modification actually cuts the productivity of crops, an authoritative new study shows, undermining repeated claims that a switch to the controversial technology is needed to solve the growing world food crisis.” This unholy partnership will do nothing but endanger chocolate, make it a sub-standard version of Mother Nature’s prized creation and threaten the health of mankind, not improve it.

Just because organic cocoa has some healthy ingredients doesn’t mean that it is ripe to “mine” as a new genetically engineered plant. Mars claims that GMO plants will curb losses caused by pests and plant disease, which they allege cause $700 to $800 million in crop damage each year. But is creating a bacteria-toxin-virus-based GMO the answer to losing an alleged $700 to $800 million when the total market is $67.587 billion (less than 0.001%)? A less than 1% loss in any business is considered excellent.

When and where will genetic modification of mankind’s most basic foods and needs be stopped? And, will it be stopped before it does permanent damage to Mother Nature’s creations and the genetic balance of mankind?

America is funding these and other GMO projects while the public is being told there is no money for health care, social security or to promote more jobs. Worse yet, America will continue to fund these projects long before there is any form of universal medicine or world peace.

Some things in life are sacred and chocolate is one of them. Many consider it the “Food of the Gods”. The only people who doubt the importance of a pure natural chocolate are the “mad” scientists in our society and their greedy corporate masters. If these people could find a way to genetically modify mothers’ milk to make humans one foot taller with longer arms to dunk a basketball, they would.

What’s next? A Minotaur? A Satyr? A Terminator with four arms to fight our battles? Sadly, the industry cannot alter the genes in humans to eliminate greed, avarice and stupidity, even among its best educated and most advantaged classes. Someone once said that it is mankind’s capacity for deception that separates it from the animal kingdom.

Mannie Barling and Ashley F. Brooks, R.N., are the authors of award winning books – Arthritis, Inflammation, Gout, Crohn’s, IBD and IBS – How to Eliminate Pain and Extend your Life (Books and Authors 2010 Best Books in the Health, Diet & Reference Categories) and Mannie’s Diet and Enzyme Formula – A Change of Lifestyle Diet Designed for Everyone (Blogger News Net 2010 Best Health And Nutrition Book Award winner) available at HowToEliminatePain.com, Amazon, Barnes&Noble, and other booksellers around the world.

It’s Not Your Fault – Weight Gain, Obesity and Food Addiction is now available at HowtoEliminatePain.com, Amazon and booksellers everywhere. The authors latest book, The Food Revolution Papers – A Primer on What’s in Your Food, is due in bookstores on October 1, 2011.

Mannie Barling and Ashley F. Brooks are the co-hosts of Surviving the 21st Century with Simon Barrett on Blogger News Network on Saturdays at 10:00 A.M. PST/1:00 PM EST and The Food Revolution Papers, on Thursday mornings at 9:00 AM PST, 12:00 noon PST, found at http://www.bloggernews.net or Blog Talk Radio.

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