Scientists are working to map the complete DNA structure of the cannabis plant in order to prevent major agricultural seed companies, like Monsanto, from securing exclusive patents on specific strains.
Late last week, Mowgli Holmes, Chief Scientific Officer of Phylos Bioscience, the company overseeing the Cannabis Genome Project, explained to those in attendance of TechFestNW in Portland, Oregon that cannabis should be viewed comparatively to another major American cash crop: Corn.
He said that both of these commodities were domesticated by humans around 10,000 years ago, and that, like corn, cannabis was spread “to every corner of the world,” pushing the scope of its biological reach “to a point in the evolutionary landscape that it never would’ve gotten on its own.”
Much to the appreciation of the audience, Holmes then went on to explain that one of his primary goals with the Cannabis Genome Project, which is focused on learning more about the biology of bud, is to create a genetic blueprint for marijuana that allows it to maintain its “public domain” status, and ultimately, “piss off Monsanto” by preventing them from marketing certain strains exclusively.
It has been suspected for decades that Monsanto has been developing genetically modified cannabis in a super secret lab somewhere in the United States in an effort to aggressively position themselves in the market once the federal government finally allows farmers to grow weed.
There has even been speculation within the past few years that Monsanto has GMO marijuana just sitting on a shelf waiting for the legislative green light, which is one of the reasons lawmakers are now eagerly pushing the issue of legalization. But for now, all of these accusations appear to have spawned from the rumor mill – that and fake news sites.
Yet, it does make sense that Monsanto would want to poise itself to profit from cannabis farms once the industry is permitted to cultivate on a wider scale in the United States, but, for now, the company suggests that marijuana is not something they are involved with.
“Monsanto has not and is not working on GMO marijuana. This allegation is an Internet rumor and lie,” says the company’s website.
However, with the cannabis industry predicted to generate over $13 billion by 2020, becoming one of the largest agricultural markets in the nation, there should be little doubt that companies like Monsanto are simply waiting for Uncle Sam to remove the herb from it current Schedule I classification before getting into the business.
After all, other major American commodities, like corn and soybeans, are on average between 88 and 91 percent genetically modified. Therefore, once the cannabis industry goes national, and that is most certainly primed to happen, there will be no stopping the inevitability of cannabis becoming a prostituted product of mad science and shady corporate monopoly tactics.
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