The candy company Mars announced this week that it was joining with IBM and the Department of Agriculture to sequence and analyze the cocoa genome. Working with massive supercomputers, a team of researchers will genetically breed cocoa trees that can withstand the warmer weather and lethal fungi that have shrunk the cocoa harvest in recent years, driving the price of cocoa up 50 percent in the last year. Presumably, the researchers will also get to add the raw genome to their chocolate chip cookie batter.
Fortunately, all this genetic knowledge—this depository of deliciousness—will be used for good, not evil: Mars says that the research will be free and publicly accessible through the Public Intellectual Property Resource for Agriculture. The Washington Post says that should prevent anyone from patenting any part of the genome. “Can open source chocolate be far behind?” asks Wired, which adds, “Can there be a more noble cause for science than ensuring the future of chocolate on Earth?”