Growers Network was created as a resource for adults in the cannabis industry.

Please verify your age to enter.

AMA with Alan The CEO of Strainly Wed. Oct 3rd 11 AM PST

Hey Alan I had a couple quick questions about genetic stability. What generation do you see breeders growing to before calling a new strain line “stable”? When sowing seeds we see multiple phenotypes that are dramatically different from one to another. This isnt the case in large scale agriculture and I’m curious how we can get our industry to that same level of stability. What thoughts do you have on this?

5 Likes

As a breeder, I can definitely see the value/appeal in breeding from landrace cannabis strains. With widespread hybridization becoming more commonplace, are you finding it harder to source landrace genetics?

5 Likes

I love the open source model :green_heart: and am thrilled that now there’s an open source license available. Thank you for putting it out there.

Some questions that I have:

• How do people using the open source license enforce it in case of a violation?

• Some breeders might not want to use the open source route, because they feel they’ve done a lot of work to create something truly novel. If not a patent or PVP, is there another ethical possibility? <-- the question that keeps me up at night.

Thank you for being here and all the great work you do!

5 Likes

Hey Jacob,

That is quite a very valid and… technical question.

A lot of the strains we have today are from some people call “pollen chucking”. They take the first generation and release the seeds. When you do this from landrace (generally more stable) strains, the first generation will usually show somewhat consistent phenotypes (still with variations).

However, the more hybridized your parents are, the more variations you will see, unless, you go down the stabilization route again. That is, interbreeding the across several generations, while selecting the desired traits (phenos) and so one and so forth. After 6 or 7 generations you should notice more consistency between children’s traits.

There is usually a debate about the minimum number of generations, some say 6 is enough, other breeders say a minimum of 9 generations is required to stabilize and official give birth to a new line.

@Maximum-Yield published an interesting article on the topic

However, you can go around by propagating from clones, where you can make sure that all your plants will be identical, since they come from the same (selected) mother.

The emergence of tissue culture in the cannabis world, should allow growers to propagate consistent phenotypes at scale while leaving the stabilization effort to breeders.

4 Likes

The “Open Cannabis License” model we issued to growers associations puts the alliance/association as the Beneficiary , which means alliances/associations represent the breeder who used the license to enforce their rights when needed.

So, the Growers’ Alliance/Association can cease and desist if necessary and proceed with litigation if unsuccessful. This is likely easier than for the breeder to be left on its own to enforce their rights. In addition, the simple fact that the cultivar is issued under this open license makes it a lot more difficult for a third party to patent it in the first place, because it is formally identified as open source, and as such the USPTO (for instance) would/should reject a patent application for a cultivar bred from an open source cultivar.

There are not too many alternatives…
If you want to protect your work, you need to obtain a patent (PVP, PBR, Plant Patent…). But this comes at a cost (read article for more details) and is only an entitlement to fight the fight if infringed ($$$$).

Individual breeders simply can’t afford patents. The model is designed for corporations, not individuals or family businesses. If they can afford the application, they will lack the resources to enforce the patent. And this time, they’re on their own (no association to support them).

7 Likes

A post was split to a new topic: Advertising Land For Sale

@Strainly, thanks again for taking time out of your busy schedule to be here with us for another great and informative GNET AMA! If you have any more questions for Alan, please feel free to DM him or leave your questions here.

Happy Growing!

3 Likes

Thanks for such an in-depth reply! Quick follow up question since you mentioned cuttings: How significant do you think the stresses from taking cuttings to clone are to the genetic lines? We see a lot of variation once we get into the flower stage despite all cuttings being from a single plant and seed.

6 Likes

Not easy to answer…

First, the vigorousness of the child plant can vary depending on where on the mother the clone is taken… which shows into flowering stage.

Different phenotypes may emerge from a single identical genotype, influenced by external factors. It would be interesting to test the different plants from a same “generation” of clones from a same mother (expected to be genetically identical), as well as the clones from different “generations” but from the same mother plant and compare the genotypes.

I don’t know anyone who has made this experiment and haven’t seen any results from such an experiment yet. I wouldn’t expect significant variations genetically but… there could be surprising observations. The stress needed to alter the genotype of a plant may also come from other factors related to the environment.

If anyone has any facts on the question, please chime in :wink:

4 Likes

No problem, it was a very good question.

5 Likes

More info about Strainly HERE :wink:

9 Likes

@memberdirectory, To all GNET members, the information on Breeders’ rights on Strainly website is priceless. I recommend everyone to read the articles. Thanks @Strainly

7 Likes

Just letting y’all know about the article from the Cannabiz Journal on this same topic of Open Source Breeding. This is getting increasing coverage…!

7 Likes

Continuing the discussion from AMA with Alan The CEO of Strainly Wed. Oct 3rd 11 AM PST:

Alan, what would you say to the argument that while the open source approach of making all plant materials available to all the players in the marketplace appears to solve problems, it flies in the face of both those who truly invent something new or those companies that want to have a competitive advantage over other companies. When everything is in the public domain, free for all to use, every company is selling the same products and they become homogenized. In this case, there is no motivation to innovative new products, build a growing business, a famous brand, or for consumers to distinguish one company from another. In this sense, open source breeding ironically leads not to biodiversity, but to a uniform generic set of products that all companies are selling into what becomes a stagnant marketplace.

3 Likes

Hi lmoore,

Thanks for your question.

Before trying to answer as honestly as possible, can I ask a few questions?

What is “inventing something truly new” when what you are doing is using nature’s abundance (free of charge in the first place) and just giving it a nudge?? Have you truly invented something when you cross 2 kinds of apples to make a new kind? Did you invent apples?

While patents are not necessarily bad, this whole thing of patenting plants is simply a confiscation (acquiring exclusive rights over) of some of mother nature’s gift. If you come up with a whole new process to breed plants, you may patent that breeding technique, but patenting the genetics themselves… we just don’t believe in it. We actually think it’s a fraud and a threat to cannabis patients (with an “i”), who need many diverse combinations of cannabinoids and terpenes (which we have yet to discover all the benefits).

Plant patents have been issued in the conventional farming world for the past 50 years. The result? from hundreds of corn varieties you can still find in South America, there are only 4 left in North America, all patented. Are they the best tasting and richest in nutrients? Nope. They are the most resistant to pest, chemicals and transportation… the most profitable. Same applies to almost all fruits and vegetables you can think of… It this legal? YES. Is this ethical? NO. If you think it is, just imagine doing this to animals or… humans…

Farmers growing those patented plants are too often captive to these genetics. Consumers eating those produces are not absorbing the best nutrients. It was observed that the average concentration in nutrients found in fruits and vegetables actually dropped dramatically over the past decades (studies made by dept. of research in different universities in Europe). So the quality of the product is not even better…

We think that companies wanting to have a real competitive advantage over their competitors should keep breeding new strains, and differentiate themselves through innovation. In such a context, the small producer/breeder has a chance to win… or at least to live and contribute to a vibrant market.

When you obtain patents, you simply buy a temporary monopole, defeating the incentive to innovate. When patent-driven breeding is the dominant model, the number of varieties decreases (it’s an observed fact), simply because you can’t defend an unlimited number of patents at the same time, even when you have a lot of cash, it doesn’t make financial sense. In a patent-driven industry, genetics are streamlined, concentration becomes inevitable, as actors absorb or get absorbed through IP-driven acquisitions.

Like we explain in our articles (see below link to our blog), this model doesn’t work for small-scale craft growers. It kills them. We believe cannabis legalization must empower family businesses. Such businesses do not have the resources to enforce patents, so it doesn’t make any sense for them to apply for patents in the first place.

Additionally, because of consumers’ strain awareness and appetite for new flavors, we believe that such a patent-driven model is incompatible with the cannabis industry. It will take some years for companies going the patent route to realize that introducing new strains is a much more effective way to secure market shares than trying to milk the same patented strain for years while trying to lock farmers in.

You wrote “When everything is in the public domain, free for all to use, every company is selling the same products and they become homogenized. In this case, there is no motivation to innovative new products, build a growing business, a famous brand, or for consumers to distinguish one company from another. In this sense, open source breeding ironically leads not to biodiversity, but to a uniform generic set of products that all companies are selling into what becomes a stagnant marketplace.

With all due respect, I strongly disagree with this statement. This logic is erroneous in my opinion. First you seem to confuse public domain (which BTW, is where patent-holders tapped their propagation material in the first place…) and Open Source (which sets the terms of use and propagation of a bred cultivar). Second, after 50 years of patent-driven breeding of corn, tomatoes, apples… you name it, we’ve got proof that biodiversity decreased drastically. This very logic belongs to the old and dying world if you ask me.

As a matter of fact, the Open Source model is the informal/underground but prevalent model in the prohibition context. Did you see an increase or decrease in the number of cultivars offered on the market during the prohibition years? We saw a significant increase everywhere we looked…

Open Source Breeding maintains a vast pool of diverse genetics to tap into, in order to create and stabilize always more combinations of genes. When done properly (like many breeders do), and when a conservation effort is collectively undertaken, biodiversity keeps growing, simply because finding that rare and desired phenotype will reward you… through the market.

Go to your grocery store and tell me if Walmart sells different fruits and vegetables than their competitors… oh well, there are actually not many competitors left, once the entire supply chain consolidated due to lack of differentiation and commoditization of produces… leaving a few cents per pounds to farmers who are subsidized with tax-payer money in EVERY developed country where patented varieties are prevalent.

The current market of fruits and vegetables is quite stagnant, but this is changing with the return of heirloom and ancient varieties. The cannabis industry doesn’t have to repeat the same mistakes. We are ahead, we can become a model to follow for the entire food production sector.

We believe that any cannabis farmer patenting strains they bred… is simply doing the paperwork for chemical companies to takeover…

I encourage you to visit our blog where you can hopefully find some inspiration :wink:

Cheers!

3 Likes

Hi Alan,
Thank you for your reply to my inquiry.
I see that you have taken issue with some of my points, and that you, on principle, oppose patents, and, with your company, uphold open source.
There has been a long standing debate between open source innovation (to get technologies, businesses and industries started) and patent protection (to deliver competitive advantage and monetary growth). In a young industry, like the cannabis industry, it certainly does make sense for open source to have a viable role, especially for small or family companies as I think you suggest. It can allow them to access stable products, brand their goods to develop their name, and in general grow their businesses.
However, for the more inventive companies in the industry it is equally important to be aware of what patents can do to protect and monetize inventions. Patents allow inventors to monopolize their inventions and recoup the costs of invention while also establishing competitive advantage over competition. There is nothing immoral about patenting an invention or about protecting inventions from infringement.
Further, as you make mention of the high costs of patenting, that cost isn’t so very high for a business to undertake, especially if you consider the return on the investment in a patent. The average patent may cost from $15,000 to $35,000 over a period of three years, but if it is well-practiced within four years of its inception it could conservatively be valued at $350,000 – $750,000. Patents grant their inventor a legal monopoly for a 20 year term, thus patent values often grow exponentially and deliver a very high return on their investment. I don’t think that could be said of open source inventions.
I think there is strategic room for both open source and patent protection in the cannabis industry. Your work making open source plants available is notable and of service to the industry. But it is not a service to the industry to suggest that patents have no role in the industry and that there is something immoral about patenting and competing to bring better products into the market.
Over the years, small companies using open source plants for their products will need to compete with other companies. They will naturally seek to differentiate themselves from their competitors by creating new and different products that others cannot copy. They will need to innovate and invent to survive, and they will need to be able to protect their inventions.
Yours,
Lindsay Moore

3 Likes

With all due respect Lindsay, patenting technologies is one thing, patenting biology is something else.

You’re making a general point about patenting and the corresponding return on investment… which sounds valid. But when it comes to the specificity of patenting living organisms… we should have particular considerations. Living organisms are biodiversity. Acquiring a monopole on biology is always a potential threat to the common good.

It seems hard to justify how someone or a group of people could acquire exclusive rights on biology.

Technology is man-made = patentable. Biology isn’t.

If you could give examples of how plant patents supported biodiversity in the past, I would welcome them…

Thanks for taking the time

3 Likes

Awesome to have you here Strainly… I hope it will not be just a once presence with you! I have stacked a pile of questions, and now I am trying to find them, lol!

Excuse my ignorance with your site, as I am becoming more familiar with it as I explore. Most of my knowledge is based off foriegn resources.

In this, I havent discovered any viewable genome mapping available. Is this something of an option in the future?

Thank you!:cowboy_hat_face:

4 Likes

Hi Alan,

        Thank you for your reply to my inquiry.

        I see that you have taken issue with some of my points, and that you, on principle, oppose patents, and, with your company, uphold open source.

There has been a long standing debate between open source innovation (to get technologies, businesses and industries started) and patent protection (to deliver competitive advantage and monetary growth). In a young industry, like the cannabis industry, it certainly does make sense for open source to have a viable role, especially for small or family companies as I think you suggest. It can allow them to access stable products, brand their goods to develop their name, and in general grow their businesses.

However, for the more inventive companies in the industry it is equally important to be aware of what patents can do to protect and monetize inventions. Patents allow inventors to monopolize their inventions and recoup the costs of invention while also establishing competitive advantage over competition. There is nothing immoral about patenting an invention or about protecting inventions from infringement.

Further, as you make mention of the high costs of patenting, that cost isn’t so very high for a business to undertake, especially if you consider the return on the investment in a patent. The average patent may cost from $15,000 to $35,000 over a period of three years, but if it is well-practiced within four years of its inception it could conservatively be valued at $350,000 – $750,000. Patents grant their inventor a legal monopoly for a 20 year term, thus patent values often grow exponentially and deliver a very high return on their investment. I don’t think that could be said of open source inventions.

I think there is strategic room for both open source and patent protection in the cannabis industry. Your work making open source plants available is notable and of service to the industry. But it is not a service to the industry to suggest that patents have no role in the industry and that there is something immoral about patenting and competing to bring better products into the market.

Over the years, small companies using open source plants for their products will need to compete with other companies. They will naturally seek to differentiate themselves from their competitors by creating new and different products that others cannot copy. They will need to innovate and invent to survive, and they will need to be able to protect their inventions.

        Yours,

        Lindsay Moore
1 Like

When it comes to landrace, the distinction between indica, sativa or ruderalis can be relevant. With today’s hybridized strains, this distinction is arguably less and less relevant.

Moreover, the usual “effects” associated with indica vs. sativa are not necessarily consistently true. The combinations of cannabinoids with terpenes (entourage effect) likely have as much to do with the type of high or general effects you get than based on sativa vs. indica.

In general, we encourage growers and breeders to test their cultivars with competent labs. Chemotype and Genotype reports should provide answers as to whether the strain is indica or sativa dominant as well as the type of “high” you should expect from cannabinoids concentration.

5 Likes