Epigenetic technology in the cannabis and hemp industry has been steadily developing. Recently, medical cannabis company Canna10 created a new cannabis EpiGen that changes the traits of the plant without fundamentally changing its genome. Their goal is to produce a new iteration of cannabis that is easier to grow and creates higher yields.
If these experiments prove successful, it could only be a matter of time before the industry experiences the impact of Canna10’s epigenetically altered plant. However, genetically-modified cannabis technology certainly envelopes an age-old controversy: the GMO debate with food. This discourse must be considered in order to understand the value in genetically-modified cannabis.
It goes without question that the GMO food controversy is relevant to evaluating the importance of genetic technology in the cannabis industry. A variety of opinions on GM foods have existed within public discourse for over a hundred years. In recent times, public consensus has shifted to valuing the importance of naturality and corporate transparency.
The bulk of GMOs are designed to enhance agricultural yields and safeguard crops from pesticides. Yet, an inquiry into the effects of GM foods and its market revealed that certain commercial monopolies like Monsanto-Bayer involved harmful chemicals in their agricultural production science.
From cancer-causing sweeteners to toxic hormones, the discovery of these GM technologies sparked profound resentment across the nation. Today, many people want to know what GMOs are in their food and why. GMO testing is viewed by many as a necessary and ethical part of agricultural science and downstream commercial processes.
What can the cannabis industry learn from this controversey?
As genetic technology increases through the cannabis industry, there should be concern and inquiry into the value of GM cannabis. While genetically-modified cannabis science is certainly being geared towards enhancing its agricultural processes, a few caveats must also be acknowledged.
The manufacturers of synthetic cannabis utilized genome science to produce sensation and elude policy restrictions— most of which still actively limit the availability of cannabis throughout the U.S. There simply needs to be a prohibitive stance on research that mirrors the pursuits of synthetic cannabinoids, especially in effect augmentation.
The United States continues to experience the catastrophic impact of synthetic cannabinoids like K2 and Spice. While these substances are not precisely cannabis, they represent a failure in terms of genome science aiming to produce cannabis-like effects. Since the early 2000s, the CDC has documented a variety of negative side effects from usage including death. If cannabis genetic technology moves beyond agricultural science, it must be subjected to evaluation.
Furthermore, there needs to be regulation on GM cannabis tech companies. There should never be a single organization that monopolizes GM cannabis technology. Although it is important to empower companies like Canna10 that are striving to enhance cannabis agriculture, the industry cannot overlook potential monopolizations when the downstream impact involves the human genome. This will certainly lead to the exact issue consumers had with Monsanto in the first place.
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