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Debunking marijuana myths: Monsanto has not created ‘GMO super weed’

| | October 19, 2018
This article or excerpt is included in the GLP’s daily curated selection of ideologically diverse news, opinion and analysis of biotechnology innovation.

Despite what some chronic users may claim, the cannabis plant is not mystical. Like any living species, its cells house genes that encode proteins which, through an impressively choreographed dance influenced by the environment, yield a distinct organism.

With genetic engineering, the levels of THC, the chemical responsible for marijuana’s “high,” or that of cannabidiol, responsible for its medicinal properties could be boosted.

Of course, some people will tell you that this has already happened. There’s a rumor, probably still alive in many Facebook groups, that Monsanto has created “GMO weed,” terrorizing people who fear that they may inadvertanly be exposed to those dreaded GMOs …

What these unfounded rumors about “super weed” obscure is the fact that, actually, we really don’t know much about the genetic code at the core of the cannabis plant. This might be surprising in the era of the Human Genome Project …. but the genetic cogs and wheels of marijuana remain somewhat concealed.

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The main reason is obvious: cannabis is an illegal crop and researching it requires the kind of paperwork that would make a committed bureaucrat blush with envy. But it’s not the only reason.

Sequencing an entire genome—meaning reading the genetic code letter by letter—can’t be done in one go (unlike reading a really good book cover to cover). Rather, it’s accomplished with overlapping fragments.

Read full, original article: Unlocking the Molecular Puzzle of Cannabis

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