US: Federal grant funds research into removing chemical crop protection from cannabis

A federal agency is providing a quarter of a million dollars in funding to a biotech startup that’s developing technology to remove dangerous pesticides from a variety of crops, including cannabis.

The National Science Foundation announced the $250,000 two-year grant to Brooklyn Bioscience last month. The money will go toward research into the company’s efforts to engineer an enzyme that’s able to break down organophosphates (OPs), which are pesticides that are particularly hazardous to people and the environment.

“The product is of particular interest to cannabis farmers, because OPs, when vaporized and inhaled, are exponentially more toxic than when ingested by mouth,” according to a press release from New York University, where one of Brooklyn Bioscience’s principals is a professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering. “[I]n states such as California and Colorado, which are introducing strict regulations governing the cultivation of cannabis, a much lower level of OPs is allowed than that considered acceptable in fruits and vegetables.”

While OPs are effective at increasing crop yields, they’re hydrophobic, or resistant to water, making it difficult to be washed away.


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