Studies suggest that by 2050, climate change will impact more than half the land currently used for coffee cultivation, creating conditions unsuitable for production. While climate change is difficult to predict, the scientific community agrees the future outlook for coffee production is dire unless immediate action is taken. The response to climate change must include aggressive solutions. New coffee cultivars are required to adapt to the impact of climate change.
Conventional breeding programs can take more than 30 years to produce a commercially available cultivar. (For more on current work in conventional breeding, read “The Fight Against Coffee Pests” on page 52 in the latest issue of Roast). Looking through the lens of climate change, this time frame is unacceptable. Similarly, transgenic engineering — incorporating foreign DNA into the genome of an organism — as it exists today is time intensive and requires significant financial investment.
Although there is widespread consumer opposition to genetically modified foods and beverages, the scientific community does not share that opposition. And in light of the dire outlook for the future of coffee cultivation in the coming decades, it seems clear we must understand and embrace research that includes genetic engineering as a potential tool in the fight to save coffee. Read more