USDA gives green light to genetically modified hemp variety with lower THC levels

USDA approves new genetically modified hemp variety with reduced THC levels

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has given approval to a genetically engineered hemp variety that produces extremely low levels of THC.

The USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) recently assessed the modified hemp cultivar developed by Growing Together Research (GTR), Inc. based in Fort Wayne, Indiana. They determined that it does not pose a higher risk of plant pests compared to other hemp varieties, and therefore it can be safely grown and multiplied in the United States.

Also reduced levels of CBC

The modified hemp not only has significantly reduced levels of THC but also cannabichromene (CBC), a minor cannabinoid found in hemp, according to the USDA.

GTR used genes from various donor organisms, including plants, bacteria, a virus, and at least one artificial sequence, to develop this variety. Along with nearly eliminating THC and CBC, these genetic changes aim to enhance resistance to the herbicide bialaphos, as stated by GTR.

Exceeding the federal limit of 0.3% THC has caused issues for farmers as some states require the destruction of plants or the implementation of costly mitigation measures.

Protection against pests

The APHIS review process identifies pests that are likely to remain on a product when it is imported into the U.S. and evaluates the necessary actions to eliminate their introduction into the country.

The agency mentioned that although the newly created hemp variety is not subject to regulations for the movement of genetically modified organisms, it may still be subject to permitting or quarantine requirements.

In addition to developing hemp cultivars without THC, GTR is also focused on increasing THC production in marijuana plants.

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