Speculations that California state senate bill SB 676 on industrial hemp farming has the potential to regulate seeds through the largely corporate agriculture industry has pro-cannabis activists concerned that it could lead to the genetic modification of marijuana and hemp crops on par with corn, soy and cotton.
According to the blog, GMO Cannabis Watch, "California’s future Hemp industry, under SB 676, will be born from a limited number of exclusive ‘pilot’ programs, initiated by State Agencies in conjunction with ‘private industry', as well as universities such as UC Davis, and other ‘established agricultural institutions’. These institutions could include everything from the State and National Granges to Monsanto and Scotts Miracle Grow. If one thing is for sure it does not include small, independent farmers and collectives."
The bill, if passed, could require that industrial hemp—which does not produce the high levels of the mood-altering active compound, THC, found in marijuana, but is rather a plant with many uses from nutritional food (seed, oil) to alternatives to petroleum-based plastics—be cultivated through seeds that meet federal guidelines and agencies that are registered with the DEA. THC levels would be required to be less than 0.3 percent, which could call for breeding and/or genetic engineering of the seeds to ensure standardization.
Conrad Justice Kiczenski of GMO Cannabis Watch writes, "Limiting the production of THC can result in less yield, less vigor and less resistance to pests and diseases. Weakening the immunity of Cannabis serves to benefit the chemical agricultural establishment for it creates more incentive for farmers to utilize pesticides, artificial fertilizers and biotechnology to fight disease, rather then relying on the natural immunity of the plant."
Genetically modified crops are on the rise in the U.S., accounting for more than 90 percent of corn and more than 70 percent of all soy grown so far this year. Among the many concerns are: Lack of labeling, environmental damage and human health risks.
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