GenCanna Global Inc. announced that the company has developed non-GMO hemp genetics with 0.0 percent THC through research developed at the University of Kentucky.
“This is a remarkable development for the hemp industry and for Kentucky,” said Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles. “When I became agriculture commissioner, I promised to make Kentucky the epicenter of hemp research and production in the United States. Announcements like these prove Kentucky is well-positioned to lead the nation in this arena. I congratulate GenCanna on their success, and I look forward to watching them continue to grow and invest in our state and our people.”
GenCanna is a vertically-integrated agriculture technology company specializing in the production of hemp rich in CBD. The company was an inaugural member of the Kentucky Department of Agriculture’s industrial hemp research pilot program and was the first hemp pilot program participant dedicated specifically and exclusively to researching and commercializing hemp-derived CBD in the state. This announcement serves as a significant development in the burgeoning hemp industry, which has recently been uplifted with the passage of the 2018 Federal Farm Bill and the removal of hemp from the Controlled Substances Act.
The industry’s economic growth has been driven by CBD production, which makes this announcement extremely meaningful for those interested in entering the space. Many have been excited by the potential upside of hemp but have been concerned about maintaining regulatory compliance. Producing proprietary, patentable genetics at 0.0 percent THC promises farmers, processors and other potential industry partners a path toward industry participation. Managing variable expressions of THC across a broad range of growing climates and conditions is a concern throughout the industry, and genetics with 0.0 percent THC are the only foolproof way of mitigating that concern.
“The growth of our industry necessitates innovations that scale,” said Steve Bevan, president of GenCanna and chairman of the U.S. Hemp Roundtable. “Our OC:00 genetics are virtually free of THC and will give both industry participants and industry onlookers confidence-in-compliance as they work to deliver new solutions from the hemp plant. We built GenCanna to develop a scalable supply of CBD products that meet the strictest quality and safety standards, and our work with the University of Kentucky is another step towards us fulfilling that mission.”
With 0.0 percent THC, the plant’s genetic material can be maximized for production of minor cannabinoids. This development also presents the evolving marketplace unique access to hemp-derived CBD that is virtually free of THC, and not reliant on downstream processing and extraction processes. Farmers in GenCanna’s Certified Farming Network will be the first to have access to Outdoor Cannabis (OC) genetics.
“We are incredibly excited and humbled by partnerships in research and development like this that have meaningful commercial impact and lead to a sustainment of our core goals and missions,” remarked Chris Stubbs, GenCanna’s chief science officer. “Partnerships like this empower farmers, processors and consumers. These types of opportunities substantiate the economic impact that the reignition of the hemp industry has at a local, state, domestic, and international level. Our continued R&D efforts, internally and with partners like the University of Kentucky, will be crucial in unlocking the true potential of the knowledge that’s been lost due to the previous prohibition of hemp. Combining innovative techniques in molecular biology, agronomics, quantitative analysis, and modern processing opportunities will prove to bring our industry’s efforts full circle. Collaboration facilitates rapid phase change.”
The company’s partnership with the University of Kentucky is led by Global Development Director Henri Marmillion and University of Kentucky Professor David Hildebrand. Their shared research extends beyond this announcement and includes multiple areas of focus.
“The support from GenCanna for industrial hemp research at the University of Kentucky is much appreciated and is facilitating development of industrial hemp as a viable crop for Kentucky farmers. The overall goal of our industrial hemp research is to improve the quantity and efficiency of CBD production, as well as production of other valuable non-THC cannabinoids in hemp varieties optimized for Kentucky,” Hildebrand said. “This involves the genetic selection of hemp varieties with higher CBD levels and nearly zero THC levels. We are also developing more rapid, efficient, economical and accurate methods for measuring cannabinoid levels from large numbers of hemp plants including intact plants growing in fields. The new hemp varieties being developed will be characterized, using methods including molecular genetic fingerprinting, as well as the establishment of a system for certified seed production of the improved hemp varieties.”
GenCanna is sponsoring fellowships for University of Kentucky Masters and Ph.D. students focusing on genetic improvement of hemp for enhanced CBD levels, metabolic engineering to increase production of minor cannabinoids, remote cannabinoid analysis and variety development, and characterization for certified seed production. Derrick Davis, whose family farms in Harrodsburg, has been selected as the Masters candidate focusing on variety development and characterization for certified seed production. Jia Tan, from Minnesota, has been selected as the Ph.D. candidate focused on genetic improvement of hemp for enhanced cannabinoid levels.
In the last few months, GenCanna has announced significant expansion plans including the buildout of a $40 million facility in Graves County that will bring more than 80 new jobs to the region. The company has also announced that it will be aligning cultivation operations with its strongest farming competitor and partner at the Hemp Research Campus, Atalo Holdings. GenCanna and Atalo will each have access to 10,000 acres of farmland for the 2019 cultivation season.
“We are entering our sixth growing season in Kentucky, and I have never been more certain that Kentucky is the right place to build the world’s leading hemp company,” said Matty Mangone-Miranda, chief executive officer of GenCanna. “Independence is an essential ingredient of Kentucky’s character. This is part of what makes Kentucky the optimal training ground to hone the entrepreneurial acumen that lives within all of us at GenCanna. That entrepreneurial acumen is sharpened by great partners like the University of Kentucky and is made possible by the best political leadership in the world. Leader McConnell, Congressman Comer and Commissioner Quarles serve as the gold standard of public service. Their leadership has been essential to our success. We are confident that we are going to make Kentucky the ‘Silicon Valley of Hemp’ and the first and best state to deliver on the tremendous potential value of the hemp plant.”
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