Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Frankenreefer: GMO marijuana exists, and more is coming.

Free and natural cannabis. Credit: USDA
As our state and nation lumber toward absolute legalization of marijuana use, the fake news crowd is having great fun generating toxic smoke.

We're here to clear the air.

There is a lot of absolute conjecture and supposition in this field, most of it baseless—or to use the latest terminology, Fake News.

We will review here some of the really smelly stuff on the internet, and then what’s really going on.

Did Monsanto create a GMO strain of marijuana, in an evil plot to take over the industry? Well, no, that would be a steaming pile, generated by the FakeNews website, World News Daily Report. 

Yes, this site is all cowcrap, and admits it. Satyrical, fictional, it says on the opening page, and any resemblance to truth is "purely a miracle." There are dozens of sites like it that promulgate the internet hoax, which Wikipedia defines as “deliberately fabricated falsehood made to masquerade as the truth.”

But Monsanto-branded GMO bud is a fun story, so not to let it die, some folks are arguing that if Big Ag isn’t genetically modifying pot, it soon will be. Here’s something from the site Herb, which reads as what it is, speculation.  

The bible of the reefer industry, High Times, continues to insist that it’s all a hoax, and that all today’s marijuana, while carefully interbred for potency and flavor, is the result of natural husbandry techniques, not laboratory genetic modification. 

You’ll see reports that the federales busted massive GMO pot operations, without any indication, no offer of proof, that the pot was in fact GMO. 

The marijuana seed company Dutch Passion goes out of its way to say it does not do genetic engineering, and that its crops are not GMO. 

But that said, its blogger, “Dutch Joe,” says GMO dope is inevitable. Dutch Joe says he believes it won’t be Monsanto, but Big Pharma that does it:

“I expect the pharmaceutical companies will invest heavily to genetically engineer a cannabis strain that yields ultra high levels of the whole spectrum of cannabinoid chemicals. The aim will be to extract and isolate them into individual cannabinoids on an industrial scale using thousands of tons of bud. Once individual cannabinoids are isolated I expect they will find their way into pills for very specific medical purposes.”

So, enough of the herb-addled inferences and implications.

The truth is that some GMO cannabis exists, and it is actively being researched, and Frankenreefer isn’t far off.

Italian researcher Fidelia Cascini actually tested strains of superstrong pot and said they were consistent with normal genetics, not laboratory-engineered genetics: 

“Our analyses support the hypothesis that marijuana samples submitted to forensic laboratories and characterized by an abnormal level of Δ9-THC are the product of breeding selection rather than of transgenic modifications.”

But that said, other Italian researchers have already created new genetically modified strains of cannabis by bombarding them with radiation to create the genetic mutations, and this was 15 years ago. 

Here, in the journal Botany and Biotechnology, is a report that talks about the ways to accomplish genetic modification of marijuana: “biotechnology companies have emerged that anticipate commercializing cannabinoid-based drugs in yeast and tobacco and to produce hemp cultivars.”

That's a strange one. What if, due to all the legal issues with the crop, you didn’t want to work with cannabis? 

What if you could create the active ingredients in another form of life—maybe yeast. Yep, that’s being done. And tobacco, as mentioned above.

In summary, there is a lot of interest in biotechnology of cannabis—the creation of GMO pot and the creation of variants of pot's many active ingredients. There are already strains in laboratories of GMO marijuana. And you can expect more.

 “Cannabis is a precious plant with multiple applications, hence the possibility of engineering it genetically to produce useful compounds/raw products is highly valuable,” said an article in the journal Frontiers in Plant Science.

© Jan TenBruggencate 2017