In the past five years genetically modified organisms (GMOs) have been a point of contention throughout the world and particularly in the United States. The technology behind GMOs has concurrently increased at an astronomical rate. There is a growing demand for organic cannabis, but is there an alternative? Can modern techniques in gene editing, such as CRISPR-Cas9, be viable options for high quality, low pesticide cannabis?
CRISPR-Cas9 is protein-RNA/DNA complex, a sort of tool used by all bacterium. Single-celled organisms wage genetic warfare to survive on the micro-biotic scale. A virus can sneak its genes into a host for a variety of nefarious reasons. The host uses machinery, CRISPR-Cas9, to find these invaders and destroy them. This technique can also insert DNA into the genome it targets. Experts in the field of molecular biology and biochemistry have been able to modify the system, allowing it to be hyper specific. Plant biologist have been able to harness the genius machinery developed by bacteria over millions of years.
Recent articles in the journal Current opinion in plant biology have discussed advances in CRISPR-Cas9. Scientists have developed protocols that allow them to use this breakthrough technology to insert new genes into the plant’s genome. These new genes act as pesticides—but perhaps not in the traditional way you may think. This recently discovered tool inserts genes derived from other organisms that have a natural resistance to the pest in mind.
By adding these pest resistant genes, we can effectively make the plant resistant to those same pests. With the recent advances in gene editing in plants, there is little work that needs to be done to apply these principles to the growth and cultivation of cannabis.
In the state of Oregon, two strains of cannabis oils had to be removed from the shelves of recreational dispensaries. The reason for this was a dangerously high concentration of pesticides. Naturally, there was no malicious intent; these pesticides were added to protect the crop and allow for a bountiful harvest. But the end of the day, they were too dangerous to be consumed by humans.
Using genetic modification is not the answer to all of our problems as a society. The argument stands that GMOs are safer than harmful quantities of external pesticides.
There are often concerns associated with “tinkering” with nature. Concerns and skepticism are valued and welcomed in the scientific community. These concerns shape the way we “tinker” to be in the best interest of humankind.
Growers will have to observe if genetic modifications affect other traits aside from pest resistance. If these GMO strains don’t hold up to the standards of vigor and fertility of natural cannabis, than they may present a problem for the overall gene pool if used for breeding.
Genetically modified cannabis can alleviate the need for harmful pesticides. Ethical concerns arise inherently when dealing with GMOs, particularly concerning the patenting of genes and safe practices. Nothing—GMOs included—should be accepted blindly, but should be allowed to proceed with caution and a watchful eye.
For all HIGH TIMES’ grow coverage, click here.
Cannabis Church Goes High Tech
Thai Lawmakers Reportedly Pushing for Medical Marijuana Research
[Updated] Synthetic Weed Found in Alabama Prison Lands K9 in Hospital
Iconic Counterculture Author and Activist Paul Krassner Dies at 87
Two Plead Guilty to Using United States Postal Service to Traffic Marijuana
Raid of Massive Illegal Cannabis Grow Site in California Took Four Days to Complete
How to Trip Well With LSD
Does Feeding the Endocannabinoid System Make Us Healthier?
Health4 days ago
Cannabis and Mental Health: Bipolar Disorder
News5 days ago
Notorious Drug Kingpin ‘El Chapo’ Sentenced to Life in Prison
Sponsored6 days ago
I Take CBD Oil. Will I Pass a Drug Test?
News6 days ago
West Hollywood Set To Get “First of Its Kind” Cannabis Café
News4 days ago
Florida’s Largest Police Force Stops Detaining People Over Pot Smell
News6 days ago
Senate Schedules Hearing on Cannabis Banking Bill
News5 days ago
Federal Agents Question Missouri Officials Over Medical Marijuana Program
News5 days ago
Michigan Announces Cannabis Social Equity Program in 19 Communities