Is Monsanto Ready to Enter The Medical Marijuana War?
As legally allowed medical marijuana becomes more widespread, it is no surprise that many are realizing there is legal money to be made off of this traditionally illegal cash crop. Even Illinois has adapted medical marijuana laws, and soon it will be legal to buy weed in Chicago as long as you have a prescription. With so many dollar signs hanging in the air, ready to be snatched, it is no surprise to see agriculture giant Monsanto getting poised to jump into selling genetically modified marijuana as well.
Is Monsanto Evil?
Monsanto has been getting a lot of bad press recently due to the way it has dominated the food agriculture business and for being suspected of playing a role in the mass death of honeybees. Monsanto is a publicly traded Missouri-based company, and is the leading provider of genetically altered seeds for US agriculture. Monsanto was also recently named the world’s “Most Evil Corporation” by the NaturalNews website. Monsanto garnered 51% of the votes with second runner up, British Petrolium, or BP getting only 9% of votes.
The Monsanto GMO seeds are genetically modified to produce plants that are resistant to chemical herbicides, and the most commonly known one is Round-Up. The herbicides kill all other plants, but the genetically altered plants are able to resist the herbicide and are able to planted closer together than traditional crops allowing farmers to gain greater yields from the same amount of farmland. These seeds are known as being “Round-Up Ready,” and farmers are required to purchase new seed each season for their crops. The company has pursued litigation against small farmers in the past for growing plants from seeds that were not properly purchased. In one case, a farmer received an eight year prison sentence for conspiracy to commit fraud against Monsanto because he saved seed from one growing season and used it the next without purchasing new seed from the company.
The genetically altered seeds are also suspected in playing a large role in the 2012 epidemic that swept through commercial bee colonies. During this epidemic, nearly 50% of the nation’s bee population was wiped out, with farmers in California being hit the hardest. It is suspected that the neonicotinoids that are bred into the seeds are causing the bees to die after coming in contact with plants that sprouted from the genetically altered seeds.
Monsanto and the Medical Marijuana War
As the largest producer of GMO plants, moving into medical marijuana may seem a logical next step for the agriculture giant. US labs already use strains of genetically modified cannabis for testing and research, and the growing demand for legally obtained medical marijuana is sure to spike in the near future. It looks like Monsanto is already ahead of the game due to their research into RNA interference.
The company is investing millions of dollars into this new technology dubbed “RNAi.” With RNAi, it is possible to manipulate everything from the color of the plant to making the plant indigestible to insects. With medical marijuana, RNAi could be used to create larger, more potent plants effectively cornering the market and exceeding the legal demand for the plant. In Canada, this scenario is one step closer to becoming reality due to new laws that will allow large-scale growers to distribute their plants via mail order. The genetically manipulated marijuana may reach consumers sooner than thought possible due to these changes.
While the company maintains that its products are safe for human consumption, it has been widely debated that this isn’t truly the case. While moving into medical marijuana may be a winning move for Monsanto stockholders, it may also be a strong case of “buyer beware” for the end consumers of the product.