Mars, Incorporated, the global brand dealing primarily with chocolate, other candy and pet food (1), wants to discuss its cocoa sustainability program as part of a summer-long sustainability exhibition on Mainau Island - a botanical island famed locally for its flora and fauna and located in the middle of Lake Constance, Germany, one of Germany's most popular tourist destinations.
The exhibition, which opens today, follows on from the annual Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting in Germany last week, in which Mars was a sponsor.
The Nobel Laureate Meeting at Lindau, which ended today, saw 23 Nobel Laureates in chemistry and more than 500 young scientists and researchers come together to share ideas on the topic of sustainability. Mars became a prominent supporter of this globally-recognized forum in 2007 and Mars family member, Pamela Mars, was appointed to the Honorary Senate of the Lindau organization last year.
"The meetings are a unique opportunity to share ideas and interact with the world's brightest minds across various disciplines," said Pamela Mars. "Our relationship with Lindau stems from our mutuality principle; by working collaboratively we can realize and share science-driven innovation to benefit everyone involved."
Mars will also play a major part in today's formal opening of the sustainability-themed "Discoveries Exhibition". Established by the Lindau Nobel Laureates organization, the exhibition will be held on Mainau Island. Mars is one of 20 exhibitors hosting pavilions to demonstrate innovative sustainability concepts. The Mars pavilion, set in a large sunflower field on the island, showcases the future of sustainable cocoa farming.
"The Mars pavilion will tell the compelling story of the cocoa crop and its importance to the 40 million people worldwide who depend on it for their livelihood," said Howard Shapiro, Global Director, Plant Science and External Research for Mars. "The pavilion charts the course of cocoa throughout history - from its origins and impact on ancient cultures, to how we are using ground-breaking science to improve the sustainability of the crop for the generations to come."
As part of today's exhibition opening ceremony, Mars will donate three cocoa trees to Mainau Island, renowned for its excellent environmental practices. These cocoa trees are the same variety used by Mars in sequencing the cocoa genome, a project launched in June 2008 to better understand and improve the sustainability of the cocoa crop.
For nearly 30 years, Mars says they have pursued a cocoa sustainability strategy with a goal to secure responsible cocoa production and the future supply of the crop. During this period, Mars has funded research programs, including education and training for farmers, development of pest and disease resistant cocoa crops, and other avenues for cocoa research.
In June 2008, Mars, Incorporated, the United States Department of Agriculture-Agricultural Research Service (USDA-ARS), and IBM announced that they would sequence, annotate and assemble the cocoa genome. A genome is essentially a map of all the components that make up the characteristics of an organism - in this case, cocoa. By understanding the exact location of these characteristics, it is easier to breed cocoa plants that have beneficial characteristics.
The public-private collaboration may enable farmers to plant better quality cocoa and, more importantly, help create healthier, stronger cocoa crops with higher yields, pest and disease resistance, and increased water and nutrient-use efficiency.
The Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings are a globally recognized forum that has been bringing Nobel prizewinners and promising young scientists and researchers together since 1951. The week-long, annual event consists of panel discussions, seminars and social events. This year's meeting (28 June to 3 July 2009) is dedicated to chemistry and has a special focus on sustainability.
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The sustainability exhibition on Mainau Island is entitled "Entdeckungen/Discoveries" and takes place from 3 July to 31 August 2009. The exhibition showcases sustainable ideas and concepts that will shape the future.
(1) They say they make food too, though the only brand we could find was Uncle Ben's Rice, which is overly processed instant stuff.