Independent startup now mapping the marijuana genome to protect it from Monsanto
-By Vicki Batts
As the evidence supporting marijuana's healing properties continues to grow, the
number of businesses getting involved with the commercialization of the plant also continues to expand. And despite the DEA's refusal to reschedule cannabis and relax federal laws surrounding
marijuana, states continue to vote on and enforce their own laws surrounding the cannabis plant –
particularly to acknowledge its medicinal properties.
So far, a number of states have legalized marijuana for medical use, and some have even legalized recreational use.
The expansion of marijuana's legality will undoubtedly create large opportunities for the industry. It has been suggested that the actions of these states will lead to the creation of a very viable market for marijuana across North America.
That's why it's not really that surprising that in 2015 rumors about Monsanto's desire to get involved with the cannabis industry began to circulate. Alternative news outlets were the first to report on it, and marijuana advocates were quick to criticize Monsanto's plans for creating a monopoly on the plant.
Just a few months ago, in April, a Monsanto spokesperson insisted that the company had no plans to get involved with the cannabis industry. In an interview, the company's spokeswoman, Charla Lord, told the Willamette Week, "Monsanto has not, is not and has no plans for working on cultivating cannabis."
Of course, many people continued to keep an eye on the company's activity. Some even believed that the company had already begun to dive into the marijuana industry, and were simply keeping it a secret.
While some may have dismissed such suspicions as "conspiracy theories," they were theories that were proven true; it has been revealed that Monsanto has already created the first GMO strain of cannabis. And, they want to patent it.
Fortunately, there are those who see fit to stand in the way of Monsanto's big plans. A start-up called Phylos Bioscience has launched an interactive guide that maps the genetic evolution of the marijuana plant. As We Are Anonymous reports, "This mapping allows for specific strains of marijuana – that are already in the public domain – a form of protection from large biotech patenting, such as Monsanto."
For the last two years, Phylos Bioscience has been dedicated to collecting samples of different strains of cannabis. In doing so, they have been able to sequence the plant's DNA, and to develop software to present a 3-D visual simulation of their data.
The company has launched this interactive guide, which is called Galaxy, allowing users to travel through a 3-D model of the genetic information that's been drawn from sequencing samples of the plant. Galaxy gives users the ability to see the hereditary sequence of each plant, by following lines that connect strains to their genetic parent or offspring. Plants that are similar are located close to each other, while colors are used to group the plants into "tribes" based on their regions, reports We Are Anonymous.
The map also allows users to view the relationship between different strains. According to Phylos Bioscience, their plant DNA sequencing will help bring order to the marijuana industry. The company states that they have sequenced DNA from over a thousand different plants and compared them.
"We mapped those relationships into three dimensions using Principal Components Analysis, a well-established technique in the field of population genetics. We combined this approach with other statistical genetics methods that generate 'heredity lines' connecting closely related samples; and then we made it interactive. These techniques have never been combined into a single visualization before, for any species."
The company says that their project was developed to create more understanding of the cannabis plant's history and evolution, as well as its future. Their documentation may even help with creating more accurate products. "We want to know where they came from, why they're so different, and what makes each one unique. And we want consumers and patients to finally know what they're getting and be able to get it again."
And, of course, protecting one of nature's most valuable plants from corruption and greed doesn't hurt. The hemp industry is also beginning to boom – but not all hemp extracts are created equal. That's why Mike Adams has joined up with Native Hemp Solutions to create a hemp extract with CBD content that's lab-validated. The Ranger's own CWC Labs tests these extracts to ensure 100 percent authenticity.