An article on Bloomberg Business Week reveals that scientists have cracked the genetic code for robusta, the coffee plant that provides the java for about one third of the world’s early morning pick-me-ups. According to reporter Caroline Winter, scientists can use this discovery to engineer GMO decaffeinated coffee beans, an easier alternative to extracting the caffeine from the natural beans.
Attempts at GMO coffee in the past have been thwarted by hackers (a group who definitely needs round-the-clock caffeine), not to mention rousing the anger of thousands of hipsters who eat only organic and drink out of mason jars. Coffee isn’t just a beverage; for many it’s a culture.
The most ironic part of the article starts when scientists claim that genetically engineering coffee beans will help the plant survive climate change. Again, with the false solutions. How can one of the very methods that accelerates climate change be considered a solution?
I guess it’s time to really make that switch to tea.
by Caroline Winter, Bloomberg Business Week, 9 Sept. 2014
Scientists have managed to sequence the java genome, a breakthrough that brings new insights into the venerated bean while also opening the door to genetic engineering.
A group of more than 60 international researchers painstakingly pinpointed all the genes that make up robusta coffee, according to an article published last week in Science, a plant variety that accounts for roughly one-third of the world’s coffee consumption. Various groups are still working on sequencing the fancier, more delicious arabica strand, which contains about twice as much genetic information.
One surprising discovery: Coffee’s mode of producing caffeine is quite different from that of its cousin, cocoa, indicating that the two plants don’t share a common ancestor. There are several reasons why unrelated plants might evolve to produce the addictive substance we love so much. “Bugs don’t chew on the coffee plant leaves because they don’t like the caffeine, but pollinators like bees do,” Victor Albert, an evolutionary biologist at the University of Buffalo and one of the study’s authors, told the Associated Press. “So pollinators come back for more—just like we do for our cups of coffee.”
Top off your cup and check out the full article here.