This topic is to discuss so called “Big Ag” in our industry. Is anyone in our @memberdirectory actually afraid of Monsanto? Tell us why!
I only fear for the medical patients. The purist grower will always do their own thing and keep it natural as possible. I can see Monsanto genetically modifying all kinds of stains for medical use then landing a bunch of government and/or pharmaceutical contracts as a result. That wouldn’t be good for the patients or the industry in my pinion. In my mind we need to fight their infiltration as hard as possible.
That’s a very fair and balanced position. Thanks for the response. I also wonder if there may be some very real medical benefit to genetic modification of cannabis to create or “design” the ideal strain for medical patients?
Could be verrrrry lucrative to the owner of the patent…
I’m not a grower but I saw a documentary about farmers and Monsanto. It was pretty sad how they treated the farmers. People couldn’t even keep their own seeds!
The retention of seeds is all part of the Monsanto corporate strategy. It’s all an effort to drive dividends back to their investors. Just like every publicly traded company (cannabis companies included): the soile goal is to return profits back to investors. There’s a decided lack of emotion to corporate strategies…but what if these corporations are trying to control our food and medicine?
First of all yes, absolutely, but I must confess my fear is more based on reputation more than it is about education. Constant patients comments at the dispensary such as “We don’t want Monsanto’s weed” stir a series of questions that we as patient advisors cannot leverage without proper knowledge of what ‘Monsanto weed’ means? Nutrients?
What happens when every cannabis seed company puts similar restrictions on their seeds sold on the open market? It will take federal legalization for that to happen, but that day is coming. They will have every right to threaten legal action if you the grower use their seeds to breed. Will breeders put themselves in actionable positions to create new genetics? We may see the day that widespread seed breeding dies a slow, hard death.
Maybe @Strainly or @beth can chime in on this, given that they are experts. What’s going to happen to new genetics? Will seeds be considered the intellectual property that they are? Will Big Ag control the food, medicine, AND the genetics?
What about weed that was grown with so-called “Monsanto-owned” products? This is a gross misunderstanding that will be challenged in tomorrow’s AMA, by the way.
Are we going to boycott all cannabis grown under Gavita lights? Where do we draw the ethical line?
Maybe its fear of competition. Monsanto (Bayer) is really good at competition - using any means necessary to stop competition from others. I think it is interesting that this topic appears to give a “future-tense”. There are already GMO cannabis strains - some of them are already being produced by universities and labs that are funded by Monsanto. Some of them are already being used to generate “synthetic” but plant based cannabinoids - we can already read about these things in journals.
Perhaps we are afraid because GMO also means plants that are designed to be dependent on specific chemicals (or I suppose more accurately designed to not be killed by specific chemicals). And perhaps that fear encompasses a fear of a monoculture for cannabis. Instead of 12 strains available at your local dispensary - only 4? Four that have been selected for their cross-functional and therapeutic cannabinoids/terpenes and not just for flavor/smell but for clinically proven efficacy? I suppose that might be good for patients though…
But really when I think about being afraid of “Big Ag” - I’m mostly afraid of a loss of agency. Big Ag can afford to lobby to make regulations harder for smaller growers to overcome. They can afford to spend on the science - and then make things that people want more, and therefore eat up market share. And they can afford to make huge mistakes (over and over again sometimes…) because they have enough capital to make mistakes.
Sometimes Big Ag means looking the other way at innovation, because its hard to change something so big. And sometimes it can mean championing “the mission” - like feeding the world with drought and pesticide resistant corn. And sometimes “the mission” has consequences that other people are not willing to accept the risks from - but Big Ag can make those decisions without the rest of our collective buy in.
So yeah - mostly its about agency for me. Potentially loss of community. I come from Big Pharma and Big Ag - I’ve seen what it does. The costs, the risks, the benefits, the “injections” of community, the $$$ spent on research (sometimes keeping entire university departments going), and I’ve watched people protest. And I’ve watched people lose their farms. But when I look around at the consolidation that is happening now - with a not small amount of the industry focused on profits and not patients…
I have a similar amount of fear for small Ag as well. Different reasons for the fear (corner cutting costs -> patient safety issues, lack of self-regulation -> warning letters and recalls, the mysterious “bad actor” -> lands synthetic cannabis on the front page and kills people).
Just my $1.50. What’s everyone else think?
That’s a legitimate fear. Check out the number of cultivars offered by some of the seed companies for other widely-traded commodities…sometimes there is a lack of variety, to say the least. Mono-culturing leads to genetic instability and lots of inbreeding – I am reminded of the sordid tale of the Yellow Cavendish banana (i.e. the only genetic varietal of the banana remaining on Earth): the destruction of this plant is imminent. One blight and BAM! No more nanners. Scary thought.
Not to mention variety is the spice of life! I love a good ganja selection! Do we fear that Big Ag may threaten the diversity of cannabis cannabis cultivars?
I think this threat may be very real indeed. This is another reason we kind cannabis folks need to band together and form a strong community. GN is here to support that cause!
Bayer the pharmaceutical company purchased Monsanto not to long ago.
Are we worried about what the conglomeration of “Big Pharma meets Big Ag” might mean for our industry?
YES!!! BOYCOTT GAVITA AND TAKE OVER THE WORLD WITH US!!!
For me, it’s all about sustainability. Is Monsanto sustainable? Is Big Ag sustainable? Or are they creating large-scale junk and waste to satisfy short-term desires?
I think Cassin makes some really good points about agency and where huge conglomerate companies could force the market to go.
As someone that worked with plants for my dissertation, GMO cannabis doesn’t scare me. Educating the public to not be afraid of GMO technology is a huge hurdle, though. I could see the market developing thusly:
Economy grade cannabis: grown by huge conglomerates with whatever cheapest pesticide is available. This would potentially be GMO to increase yield with only minimal concern over flavor/usage experience. Basically, this is what you’d find at Walmart.
Clinical grade cannabis: GMO cannabis modified for particular symptom treatment. This would be extremely high-priced because the label would say “clinical” or “medical”.
Mid-tier grade cannabis: this would be Target to the Walmart of cannabis. Mild improvements in flavor/experience would come with a moderate price increase. Could still be GMO but perhaps not.
Black-label/Bougie/Gourmet grade cannabis: this will be the stuff with the “organic” and “non-GMO” label on it, and it will come with a hefty price tag. Small growers will also say things are “small-batch” and “hand-tended”. If Elon Musk was smoking on camera, this would be his preferred grade of cannabis.
I understand why Monsanto doesn’t allow those holding contracts with them to retain seeds. If I personally had sunk millions of dollars into developing a GMO seed, I would definitely hesitate to make it a “buy it once” product. However, I also don’t agree with these huge companies running the grant gamut and entire university departments completely depending on them for funding. I have a philosophical issue with the current funding environment for universities, but that’s a soapbox for another day.
One might venture to say they have created super - sustainable foods…for today.
Do you think funding by corporations and federal scheduling are currently preventative hurdles to meaningful research? Do you think funding influences the very nature of the studies and thus stifles objectivity?
Yes, absolutely. No longer are scientists able to investigate whatever quandary crosses their minds. Funding in the bio world is around 4%, which means that everyone is focused on the current hot topics that are more likely to get grants. This leaves fundamental research and small pieces of the puzzle that are integral to the main topic completely out in most cases.
There are several aspects to this. The short answer is yes, because no company truly wants to fund a study that would publish negative results about the thing they’re trying to sell, and everyone knows it. On another level, universities have created “publish or perish” environments and heavily increased competition for positions and funds. Couple that with predatory journals and the fact that 99% of journals refuse to publish any sort of negative result, and you’ve got a recipe for an environment where everyone is stressed and making unacceptable research decisions. It’s like a huge rush to the finish line, except the finish line is your career and you’ll spend the next 30 years in a dead run on the brink of starvation. University research is THE reason I’m looking for an industry career instead of going into academia.
Probably the stupid question of the day- but do you make a designation between GMO and GE
I don’t think you have a stupid question. For a layperson, I’d generally say no and leave it at that.
I suppose if I got to brass tacks, I would view GMO as the more broad term. I would include traditional breeding in GMO, because what are farmers doing if not, over time, changing the genetic makeup of the plant?
GE to me would specify that specific genes were added or silenced to achieve a very particular effect from the plant. This could include the insertion of genes from other organisms.
I have a problem with neither technique. I don’t view the insertion of genes from other organisms as inherently bad or negative, and I can’t imagine any scientist worth their salt that would, upon finding some weird man-eating plant, advertise that it was great and send it out to farmers. The genes in plants are not going to transfer to your genome, which seems to be the main concern of the common layperson. You won’t become transgenic simply by eating GE foods.
I have two concerns when it comes to genetic modification of any sort:
Genetic drift, whereby other plants are transformed and can potentially become resistant to the chemicals we’d like to use to prevent them competing with our crops.
Patents and information hoarding, usually by large conglomerate companies. Generally this stifles scientific progress and hikes up the cost of all products derived from the few innovations allowed.
If I were in a store and someone had me choose between GE cannabis designed for my condition or something a person grew in their closet, I’d choose the GE stuff every single time because it’s more likely to have been grown in an environment that is well supported by the genetic research and analysis of the plant. I would view the product as more consistent and predictable, both for taste and user experience.