This from Science Daily: USDA, Mars and IBM are sequencing the cocoa (Theobroma cacao) genome. It will take 5 years and is expected to lead to a better breeding lines. Why not? It's been done, without going the route of genetically modified foods, for many other domesticated crops. Better yields, increased pest resistance and more efficient use of water and nutrients are possible as a result of the effort.
I feel a little weird about Mars's role in this, though. I know that it's the norm in terms of funding for developing lines of corn, wheat, etc., but if Mars owns certain lines that are shown to be good for certain parts of the world, in certain soils, will small-scale farmers be able to get them? For a price...
And don't get me started on the risks of GM crops. I'm less concerned with the health risks than the environmental ones, such as the transfer of advantageous genes from crops to wild relatives.
From a chocolate-lover's perspective, the project will hopefully lead to better chocolate.
image from here