The GMO debate is tough as more and more foods are genetically modified in different ways and for different reasons. For the first time ever, GMO cannabis is patented and manufactured in preparation to hit the shelves at your friendly neighborhood pharmacy.
“A GMO or genetically modified organism is a plant, an animal, a microorganism or another organism whose genetic material has been modified in a laboratory using genetic engineering or transgenic technology. This creates combinations of plant, animal, bacterial and virus genes that do not occur naturally or through traditional methods of crossbreeding. "
With regard to crossbreeding, the definition is "the act or process of producing offspring by mating purebred individuals of different races or varieties". For example, a mule is a cross between a donkey and a horse.
The ideas of crossing and hybridization have been around almost as long as we have, but recently it has been part of playing around with seeds to get the best version of a crop, or creating animals like donkeys. Today, herbicides can be introduced directly into the DNA of products like soy and corn. At the moment it is almost impossible to get any specific numbers. About 92% of all US corn is GMO, and 94% of soybeans, 94% of cotton, and 75% of all processed food sold in the country contain genetically modified materials.
Proponents of genetically modified foods like the idea that these measures are necessary, citing things like the inability to feed everyone on the planet without them, or other such nonsense that didn't exist as an argument until companies wanted to sell their products. That's not to say that all genetically modified foods are bad, but when herbicides are used in food, I certainly do worry a little. It's great to be futuristic in some ways, but maybe, just maybe, the better answer here is not to mess around with our food.
Of course, I'm not an expert on bioengineering, but I personally identify more with the side that says one should beware of mixing random genetics without understanding the ramifications. Regardless of my personal opinion, this is a controversial issue, and there is no definitive answer that all of science (and private interest) can agree on. It's no surprise that this argument is now making its way into the world of legal cannabis.
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Is it really going to happen to cannabis?
This is not yet the case as there is no GMO cannabis product on the shelves right now (aside from "GMO Cookies," which is a pretty delicious-sounding strain of cannabis that, contrary to its name, actually doesn't contain any genetically modified organisms.) But that it's safe doesn't mean it won't be soon.
On September 2nd of this year, the very first license for genetic processing technology for cannabis products was granted to CanBreed of Israel, a company that supplies farmers with uniform raw materials. The license includes a patent agreement for the company's basic CRISPR-Cas9 technology. The company is expected to use this technology to bring improved cannabis strains to farmers faster. CanBreed has claimed that its CRISPR technology can manipulate certain genes to produce stable seeds for more productive agriculture.
CanBreeds CEO Ido Margalit even stated: "We have patented all of the key characteristics of cannabis such as disease resistance." What this exactly means has not been explained, but it could possibly be an indication of the use of chemicals in genetic engineering.
Wait a minute, what license does CanBreed have?
Excellent question. When was the last time you heard of a license for it? Who would have thought there was a license for genetic engineering in cannabis? According to CanBreed itself, the license was renewed by Corteva Agriscience, MIT Broad Institute, and Harvard University under a non-exclusive licensing agreement that purportedly meets all regulatory standards of federal, international, and state or specific location law applicable to the United States, Canada, and elsewhere.
As if CanBreed is still working on regulatory issues in order to be able to work with EU countries. The EU Commission is currently defining CRISPR technology as a genetically modified organism, the sale of which is therefore illegal.
Will European medical cannabis shift from flowers to oils?
Did it come out of nowhere?
Of course not. As mentioned earlier, genetic engineering of our food supplies has practically become an American past. When a company wins such a large contract, it is usually not their first try. When it comes to finding ways to genetically modify cannabis, CanBreed is not the first, not even the first, to claim a GMO cannabis product. As early as 2019, Trait Biosciences produced a patent-pending cannabis plant that supposedly produces water-soluble cannabinoids itself.
The plants are said to produce soluble cannabinoids, eliminating the need for dangerous extraction processes. Part of the problem with genetic engineering is getting the offspring to carry on the genes. At this point it is considered fully transformed what Trait is working on and what it achieved to some extent in 2012. Trait offers various products made from bespoke cannabis that produces specific and predetermined levels of cannabinoids, hemp plants that do not produce THC, and other products, especially cannabis beverages. None of this is on the shelves, of course, but it does show another company's attempts to get into the GMO cannabis game.
Then there's Hyacynth Biologicals, a Montreal-based company trying to find new genetically modified versions of cannabis to fight disease, and the Cronos Group, which has just signed a $ 122 million deal with Ginko-Bioworks Inc. to genetically engineer cannabinoids or other active ingredients from the cannabis plant using a yeast-based process similar to that of Hyacynth.
And who could discount GMO giant Monsanto – the grandfather of today's agro-tech who is reportedly considering throwing his hat in the GMO cannabis ring. While nothing right now supports their entry into the field, it is hard to imagine Monsanto stepping aside in one of the largest new fields for genetically modified products.
The Organic CBD Movement – Best for Consumers and Businesses
When you look at all the hype in the legal cannabis world, you think we didn't know how to properly grow the plant. You would even think that we as humans are necessary for the plant to grow. The truth is that, with and without our help, it has grown well, initially giving us a multitude of options, options that, with minor modifications, will turn into unfathomably strong plants, brimming with beautiful colors and stocked with all kinds of medicinal and recreational products Services. Maybe all of this new genetic editing technology is delivering something that is really better, that is really amazing. Or maybe it's just the next unnecessary place where chemicals are injected.
Another thing to consider with genetically modified cannabis is that it gives larger pharmaceutical and biotech companies the opportunity to take over the reins. Currently, the cannabis industry, including the medical part, is not a pharmaceutical industry. Anyone can grow cannabis, and tons of small businesses can make products. Once it becomes a bioengineering project, larger companies can jump in and take over the business by developing new products at a much higher cost.
Perhaps that's the worst part of the fact that every day the legal cannabis industry is becoming more and more like a standard pharmaceutical industry.
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