“We’re getting slammed,” said Nathaniel Pennington, founder of seed leader Humboldt Seed Company in California. They offer 57 strains in their 2021 catalog, available in California, Oregon, Oklahoma, and Maine. “We’ve never had this level of demand.”
“If you want to have a good time, smoke Blueberry Muffin, and smoke Squirt.” Nat Pennington, Humboldt Seed Company founder
Easy-peasy autos and fems
Gush Mints electrifies and colorizes the minty strain craze. It takes Kush Mints and crosses it with the fabled F1 Durban and Gushers. The result is, “creamy gas and kushy candy terps,” said Rosen.
OG Kush cousin Triangle Kush never goes out of style. Just look at Wave Rider Nursery’s Black Triangle (Triangle Kush x 88G13) via Bodhi Seeds.
Ethos Genetics’ MAC and Jack amps up the sweet sativa jack terps. (Courtesy Ethos Genetics)
“All Monsanto or Dow have to do is go to a dispensary and buy everything that everyone’s buying,” said Reggie Gaudino, a PhD and longtime cannabis industry genetics researcher who now serves as vice president of research and development at Front Range Biosciences, a Colorado-based company, in an interview with MJ Biz Daily. “They can sequence it themselves, and they’re home free.”
To do this, the farm partnered with Phylos Bioscience, a genomics firm that has, for at least four years, been crowdsourcing cannabis genetics to build a database of all the cannabis plant’s various tones. The growing experiment was well underway until a video of Phylos’ CEO Mowgli Holmes speaking highly of partnering with Big Ag to breed plants surfaced. That led East Fork Cultivars to publicly break with Phylos.
But at the same time, cannabis genetics have been available all along for anyone—including Big Ag—to swipe and to improve upon, in a lab if necessary.
East Fork Cultivars’ stated goal was to grow more and better CBD-rich varieties of both hemp and marijuana. (The difference is legal, not botanical: cannabis sativa with 0.3 percent or less THC is hemp; anything more is marijuana, under federal law.)
Carefully breeding crops or animals in order to reduce or eliminate certain traits and magnify others—in pursuit of a fast racehorse; a particularly cute (or thicc) dog; a fruit that’s very tasty, with high yields and good resistance to bugs and blight—is something that’s been done “for centuries,” as the Federation of American Scientists observed in its official entry for “genetically modified crops.”
The perceived risk for most cannabis cultivators is that they’ll wake up one day and find out that the strain they’ve been perfecting or even selling to dispensaries for years is suddenly the intellectual property of somebody else. Power plays like this are de rigueur in business and are often fought out in the courts, for years—but are nonetheless an abstraction for most consumers. As corn and soybeans and other agricultural commodities demonstrate, consumers don’t really seem to care if their end product was perfected in a field, in a garage or in a lab—just if it’s affordable and good and does the trick.
The ancient art of selective breeding is practiced by almost everyone who grows crops or husbands livestock for a living. Those who don’t are both willfully putting themselves at a competitive disadvantage and breaking with an established norm.
Israel is known for its landmark discoveries in cannabis research; however, CanBreed, a startup hailing from the halls of Israel's laboratories, has recently made waves in the cannabis industry by signing a license agreement that puts them at the forefront of GMO cannabis. The startup aims to use biotechnology to modify cannabis seeds genetically for the medical cannabis industry specifically.
Genetically modified cannabis could offer the industry consistent quality, help standardize the industry, and help make the plant more accessible to lower-income households- if GMO seeds and crops can lower the production costs in the long run. All of this seems peachy- but what are the potential negatives that GMO cannabis can bring to the table?
CanBreed was brought to life by Ido Margalit and Tal Sherma in 2017 and is now attempting to close the consistency gap in cannabis cultivation. The licensing agreement, which is non-exclusive and categorized as intellectual property, allows the company to utilize technology (CRISPR-Cas9) from rights holders Corteva Agriscience and the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard.
Genetic Modification in Cannabis
Bioengineering, and the subsequent biomanufacturing, of cannabis, offers the industry an opportunity for consistency that naturally grown plants simply cannot offer.
In stark contrast, genetic modification uses bioengineering techniques to alter a strain's genetic profile. Biotechnology companies across the globe are scrambling to develop bioengineered genetic strides in the marijuana industry.
Through the technology, the company has stated they have perfected stable seeds for growers to cultivate consistent plants through seeds in place of the current method (cloning) employed to ensure consistent crops. The company also aims to use this technology to enhance specific gene expression that allows for higher resistance to diseases and pests.
Whether for food or fun, genetically modified agricultural cultivations are found throughout the globe. Although it has become a fiercely debated topic, up to 70% of North America's food products contain at least one GMO-derived ingredient.