In a recent NCBI publication entitled ‘Cannabis sativa: The Plant of the Thousand and One Molecules‘, it was pointed out the great interest that the pharmaceutical industry and the agriculture industry has on hemp.
What is most alarming in this article was the following statement with respect to the article’s coverage:
“Biotechnological avenues to enhance the production and bioactivity of hemp secondary metabolites are proposed by discussing the power of plant genetic engineering and tissue culture.”
In Canada, Hemp production is controlled by the Industrial Hemp Regulations.
Included in Canada’s Industrial Hemp Regulations is the type of cultivar or seed Canada allows. Section 14 (3) states: “On and after January 1, 2000, an approved cultivar referred to in subsection (1) must be of a pedigreed status …”
Pedigree status is further defined in subsection 2(2) as: “with respect to seed, means seed that is of foundation status, registered status, or certified status, or seed that is approved by the Canadian Seed Growers’ Association (CSGA) as being breeder seed or select seed. Foundation, registered, and certified status are further defined for seed that is produced in Canada or elsewhere. Seed that is not produced in Canada must meet the standards for varietal purity established by an official certifying agency and be approved by the CSGA.”
This legislation further states that the only two official systems recognized to produce seed of pedigreed status includes:
- AASCO- The Association of American Seed Control Officials – and
- OECD – The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development
According to Science Central, crop genetic engineering is now defined as:
“a technology where the genome of a host crop is engineered with a foreign donor gene regulated by certain gene regulatory sequences (promoter, terminator, etc.). Crop genetic engineering started in 1983  via expressing of a bacterial gene in tobacco, and the first transgenic (genetically modified or GM) food crop (i.e. Flavr Savr tomato) was commercialized by Calgene Company in 1994 . In crop genetic engineering, genes are randomly inserted into a host plant genome.
Although scientists add genes to crops via crop breeding, the breeding progeny is not considered a GM crop because the inserted genes and their regulatory sequences belong to the same host crop genus or in rare cases (for example, in case of cross breeding of oat and barley), to the host’s cross breedable crop.
If the donor gene and all of transgene’s regulatory sequences belong to the same crop species or belong to the host’s cross breedable species, the resulting crop is called “cisgenic”. In the cisgenic technology, the cisgene must be an identical copy of the host’s native gene cassette, including its regulatory sequences integrated in the host plant in the normal-sense orientation.
The crop intragenic is a technology that inserts gene cassettes containing specific genetic sequences from crops that are belonging to the same breedable gene pool into a host crop genome. In this case, the gene coding sequences (with or without introns) can be regulated by promoters and terminators of different genes as far as those genes that contribute towards the transgene regulation belong to the same cross breedable gene pool .”