The University of Bath in the U.K. has developed a solution that could potentially put an end to modern-day slavery and child labor plaguing the cocoa industry and supply chain.

To ensure that cocoa beans are farmed from sources that meet approved labor and environmental standards, the University of Bath team proposes creating a DNA database that contains the plant DNA of cocoa plants so that governments and other stakeholders could directly source chocolate products to specific farms.

Source: University of BathSource: University of Bath

The researchers suggest that cocoa farms could isolate a plant’s DNA on site by extracting a plant’s biomarkers, which are the unique identifiers of a plant, and cataloging those samples in a DNA database. Once constructed, the database would ideally allow consumers and governments to directly trace the origins of the plant along the cocoa supply chain, directly to the cocoa farm where it originated.

Such a database could one day make it possible to avoid buying cocoa products with ties to farms that reportedly abuse the environment or that use child labor.

Watch the accompanying video that appears courtesy of the University of Bath for more information on the proposed cocoa DNA database.

To contact the author of this article, email mdonlon@globalspec.com