There are many editing targets of interest in cannabis, including some editing events involving other crops and vegetables. The regulatory path for GE crops is unclear, but it is costly. Many of the GE systems require a transformation system and suffer from the same methodological limitations of transgenics. Even GE systems, which do not require a transgenic delivery system, require a reliable method for generating plants from protoplasts, which is also not a reality today. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, the freedom to operate with CRISPR-Cas and other editing methods is uncertain due to litigation around the foundational patents.
There is no published, reproducible transformation system for getting transgenic events into Cannabis. Some have claimed to have successfully created transgenic Cannabis, but this has yet to be validated independently. More product manufacturers are seeking verification from the non-GMO Project, so the motivation to develop new, transgenic-based products is waning. This is particularly true given that the creation and deregulation of a transgenic event is, on average, a lengthy 13-year regulatory process with costs exceeding $100M. However, there is value in utilizing transgenic tools to validate gene function within the R&D setting.
No, NWG uses traditional plant breeding techniques to create varieties adapted to production in the United States. However, we are incorporating modern sequencing technology and statistical genetic methods to speed up development. This approach allows us to make more informed decisions, thus minimizing the time to market for improved varieties. Ultimately, all stakeholders in the supply chain benefit from higher-yielding hemp carrying value-added traits.