USDA approves cultivation of genetically modified hemp variety

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A hemp strain genetically engineered to produce little or no THC has been approved by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) as safe to grow and reproduce on U.S. soil.

The USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) issued an advisory last week regarding these plants, created and submitted by the company Growing Together Research, an Indiana-based biotechnology company specializing in cannabis, hemp, psychedelics and agriculture. APHIS regulates the “movement of genetically engineered or modified organisms.”

“APHIS found that this modified hemp is unlikely to present an increased risk of plant pests compared to other cultivated hemp,” the USDA advisory states. “Therefore, it is not subject to 7 CFR part 340. From a pest risk perspective, this hemp can be cultivated and bred safely in the United States. »

Growing Together Research announced in June this year that it had succeeded in modulating the amount of delta-9-THC expressed in plants. They explained that their experiment was intended to help American hemp farmers whose crops sometimes exceed the limit of 0.3% THC due to environmental conditions, a threshold at which the law requires that all of the harvest is destroyed.

GTR’s announcement also hinted at ongoing experiments to try to get Cannabis plants to produce more THC than normal.

“Based on its demonstrated ability to reduce or turn off genes coding for THC expression, GTR is now applying the same techniques to increase THC expression. GTR will soon begin collaborating with academic and commercial partners based in Canada to create a cannabis cultivar with increased THC expression. A first round of high-THC cultivars is expected to be created by the third quarter of 2023,” GTR said in June.

According to GTR, nearly 10% of American hemp crops had to be destroyed between 2018 and 2020 due to too high a delta-9-THC level.

“Understanding the mechanisms of the THC pathway is perhaps the most important element to truly unlocking the promise of cannabis and hemp,” said Sam Proctor, CEO of GTR. “We are very excited about the results achieved to date and look forward to continuing to innovate for the benefit of stakeholders in the cannabis and hemp supply chain.” »

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