US (MN): Company lays groundwork for gene-edited hemp

A biotechnology company has taken a key step toward genetically editing hemp with an eye toward easing large-scale production of the crop. 

Calyxt, a Minnesota-based plant technology firm, has transformed the hemp genome to provide a “proof of concept” that the crop can be altered with its TALEN method of using “gene scissors,” said Sarah Reiter, its chief business officer. “For us, it’s sort of a dream crop. It also needs a ton of improvement to reach that potential,” Reiter said.
Achieving a more uniform plant height, reducing the amount of psychoactive THC compound and enhancing the size and consistency of seed are among the traits that Calyxt will now try to develop in hemp, she said.

The company expects to concentrate more on fiber and grain production than the plant’s CBD content, she said. Cannabidiol, or CBD, is an extract that’s popularly used for its healthful properties.
“We’re happy to work with them to utilize our technology but it’s not our immediate focus,” Reiter said of the hemp CBD market.


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