Israel-based startup CanBreed said it has used CRISPR-Cas9 gene-editing technology to alter a gene in the cannabis plant to make it resistant to powdery mildew, the Times of Israel reports.
Ido Margalit, CanBreed CEO, said the company plans to ultimately market the mildew-resistant seeds by the end of 2021. Additionally, Margalit said the firm would use the technology to edit other genes in the cannabis plant, which he said would help growers develop uniform plants resistant to diseases and pave the way for the “standardization of the industry.”
“But just having stable seeds is not enough. What the grower has to see are agronomical traits to ensure that they will have the most and highest quality harvest, so they like to see resistance traits in their products, that the plant can be adapted for a certain growth environment. None of those traits exist in cannabis.” – Margalit to the Times
Canbreed announced in August it had reached a license agreement with Corteva Agriscience and the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard to use the gene editing software.
Israel does not regulate plants that have undergone gene editing and in the U.S. most plants edited using CRISPR tech are not considered GMO products according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Food and Drug Administration. However, a 2018 E.U Court of Justice opinion essentially banned crops edited with CRISPR.