Some of us don’t want to live in a world without chocolate, but we may have to if a South American disease spreads to cocoa plants in Africa.

Julianna Kettlewell writes in that the two diseases ravaging cocoa plants are called “witches’ broom” and “frosty pod.” They are both fungi and are closely related. WBD causes the branches of cocoa trees to become swollen, giving them the appearance of witches’ brooms, while FP attacks the pods containing the cocoa beans, leaving them with a white coating.

Both probably evolved in the Amazon rainforest, but they weren’t a major danger until increased trade and cocoa production gave them a chance to spread. Researcher Gareth Griffith thinks growers travelling from one region to another probably took the diseases along with them. He says, “People take what they think are healthy pods and try to plant them in a new area?but they can accidentally bring the disease with them.”

If the diseases reach plantations in West Africa, where most of the world’s cocoa is grown, it could be the end of chocolate?or at least it would become an expensive luxury like caviar.

With no chocolate, we’ll all agree with Carnie Wilson: I’m still hungry!

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