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genetically engineered marijuana seeds

As MJ Biz Daily recounted: “The uproar underscores the cannabis industry’s unease over Big Ag companies eventually entering the space and controlling the means of production and genetics—a fear bred out of precedents set by the commercial agriculture market.”

Selective breeding is absolutely happening right now in the marijuana industry. We know this because it has always happened—this is what breeders and seed banks do. And for the past few years, you have been able to search the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office database to find patent applications for proprietary cannabis strains. This means there are plant scientists, botanists and garage-level growers alike trying to find the killer strain, and using whatever means necessary to do so.

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.”

All of this touches a very sensitive nerve in the marijuana industry, which has for years been haunted by the specter of GMO weed. It’s been enough of a thing that both Snopes and Monsanto felt the need to address—and dismiss as an “internet rumor”—the allegation that its scientists were working on GMO marijuana. (Whether this is an honest denial or an exercise in nominalism—perhaps Monsanto is working on something that’s cannabis sativa, AKA hemp, which would make their statement correct—only company insiders know).

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.

One main difference between what, say, the Amish do and what’s done in corporate labs—and what freaks certain people out and leads to certain countries, like in Europe, to ban GMO crops, while others, chief among them the United States, to heartily embrace lab-honed foodstuffs—is that you can breed a certain gene in or out “in one generation rather than 20.” (Whether the main risk is genetic instability leading to food insecurity or the subsequent dumping of patented pesticides and herbicides on fields of GMO corn or soybeans—the praxis for farmers purchasing, for example, RoundUp Ready products from agribusiness giant Monsanto—can depend on whom you ask.)

In the meantime, marijuana cultivators appear to want to both craft the greatest strain but do it in a way that isn’t quite what Big Ag does, even if the only difference appears to be one of scale. As Marijuana Business Daily recently reported, a partnership between an Oregon outdoor cannabis farm and a Portland, Oregon-based clearinghouse of cannabis genetics went sour after the former became upset at the latter—and for a reason that may not be intellectually sound or even consistent.

Using various forms of silver, these female plants come with a very small tendency of becoming intersexual, that is, plants that can stay female even under irregular, harsh, and stressful conditions. As a result, they may result to producing male marijuana plants. This only means that the offspring do not have the tendency to turn intersexual. Intersexuality is a vital part of the genome.

Each particular marijuana plant that is being used to create feminized marijuana seeds is not genetically modified. This is because there are no genes that are removed or added. More than anything else, the parent marijuana plants can be physically modified with the use of silver. With this process, the seeds are produced in a very special way, that is, through the natural means of pollination.

Genetically Modified?

Earlier feminized marijuana seeds were usually made through the combination of two female marijuana plants. One is often identified with hermaphrodite tendencies, which means that it is prone to producing male marijuana flowers when stressed. This prone plant will become stressed with the interruption of light cycle or pruning, while being encouraged to produce male flowers. The disadvantage to the procedure involved is that the female marijuana donors where plants that are prone to becoming intersexual. As a result, this may easily become inherited by the other seeds that are also produced this way.

Feminized marijuana seeds refer to the types of seeds that are only set to produce female marijuana plants. However, there is some misunderstanding about feminized marijuana seeds, hermaphrodites, as well as marijuana as a whole that needs to be addressed. Unlike complicated organisms, a marijuana plant is not just one sex, or the other. It is a very special plant because it is considered as an annual plant. It can also produce separate male and female flowers on various plants. However, every plant has the capability to produce flowers in the opposite sex depending on the circumstances.

All of the marijuana plants that are grown using feminized strains will be expected to turn out female. Even though there is a continuing issue regarding the existence of hermaphrodites, this situation is very rare these days. All of the feminized marijuana seeds that are sold in most reliable seed banks are typically as stable when compared to the regular type of marijuana seeds. New techniques in producing feminized seeds, as well as an intensive, and multi phase breeding programs provide the assurance that the feminized marijuana seeds of today are completely stable, very productive and consistent.

The topic as to whether feminized marijuana seeds are genetically modified is considered as a conspiracy and an ongoing argument at the same time. This is because it seems that it is impossible to come up with all-female plants. However, reality dictates that it is not just the technical aspects involved in genetic modification that matters, Even though there may be some GMO seeds that are being sold these days, it does not mean that all feminized marijuana seeds are genetically modified.