An Israeli company was awarded the first ever license for gene editing of cannabis seeds, for medical use. Although it has yet to be approved in the EU, it will still be able to sell its products in Canada, the USA and other markets. The goal is to improve cannabis’s agronomic traits.
A More Resistant Cannabis Plant
The demand for medicine including cannabis is growing steadily. The fact that CanBreed obtained a patent for editing medical cannabis seeds, means that farmers growing cannabis will be able to secure their crop better, by making their genetic structure stronger and more resistant to various factors. The company is anxious to get to work, even though it still faces some hurdles. One of the biggest ones is the fact that the EU has issued a GMO ban on the company’s CRISPR technology.
These genetic editing tools from the company will provide better raw materials to seed growers. It will be made available to them as long as they are harvesting for medical products only. In other words, it means that farmers will now have the possibility to grow stronger cannabis, thanks to the genetic modification provided by CanBreed.
Cannabis: A Young Plant which Still Needs to Adapt
Many of the plants which are grown for commercial purposes have had time to adapt through thousands of years of existence. Most of them already benefit from gene editing technology to make them stronger. It isn’t the same with the cannabis plant, which is still really young. That is why this new development is so important to the industry.
The gene editing capacity, which will be applied to cannabis, will reinforce it. That means its current genetic instability will be reduced, which will make farmers’ work much easier. They already have to deal with its high cost, its reaction to humidity and the fact it never stops growing. With CRISPR technology, certain traits of the plant will be adapted for optimal farming.
Since cannabis farming was illegal before, it was grown indoors. Now, they need to adapt to normal conditions, outside. To do this, CanBreed will make the plant more resistant to diseases which are more frequent in the open air. All the crucial traits of the cannabis have been studied by CanBreed, and they have patented solutions to each.
There is already an agreement in place with Corteva Agriscience and the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard for an open licensing framework. It makes it easier like this, for them to be compliant with all federal, international, and state laws.