The rivalry between the two big chocolate companies’ projects in some ways mirrors what occurred in the race to sequence the human genome, between Celera Genomics and the publicly financed Human Genome Project. That battle was officially declared a tie.
Still, scientists in both groups say that cocoa farmers, candy companies and chocolate lovers will benefit from having two sequences, of different varieties of cacao, that can be compared.
“This will help guarantee a sustainable future for cocoa for the farmers, the consumers and Mars Inc.,” Howard-Yana Shapiro, the head of plant research at Mars, said in an interview.
Having the DNA information, he said, could help in breeding trees that have higher yields and are more resistant to diseases. The cocoa crop in Brazil, for instance, was decimated some years ago by a fungal disease called witches’ broom.
The full text of the article on NYTimes.com is here.