A quarter of a million dollars is being handed by a U.S. federal agency to a biotech company so that research into how dangerous pesticides can be removed from several crops, including marijuana, can be done.
Brooklyn Bioscience is the lucky startup that won the two-year grant worth $250,000 from the National Science Foundation. The money will help to further the company’s efforts to engineer an enzyme with the capability of breaking down organophosphates (OPs). OPs are pesticides that have been found to be extremely hazardous to the environment and humans.
Marijuana farmers will be especially interested in this enzyme because research has shown that when organophosphates are taken into the body after a process of combustion (through smoking marijuana, for example), the pesticides are more dangerous than if they were ingested orally.
The enzyme will also come as a godsend to marijuana farmers in various jurisdictions, such as Colorado and California, where the cap for the acceptable level of OPs is much lower than what is permitted in other jurisdictions.
Organophosphates are used to increase crop production because they keep deadly pests at bay. However, these compounds aren’t water-soluble, so it is nearly impossible to wash them away using water.
If the research into producing an enzyme called phosphotriesterase succeeds, farmers will have a low-cost way of breaking down OPs into harmless forms which can be removed using water.
The pesticide industry is estimated to be worth $17 billion in the U.S. alone and at least 10 percent of that market is for organophosphates. This underscores how important it is to develop biological ways of efficiently controlling the levels of those organophosphates in different crops so that human health and the environment are protected.
The enzyme may end up being used in many different crops, but the press release issued by Brooklyn Bioscience emphasizes that the ongoing work will result in pesticide-free marijuana, wine grapes and many other high-value crops.
Toward the end of last month, the Environmental Protection Agency announced that it was welcoming public comment about ten pesticides that are being considered for approval for use during the cultivation of industrial hemp.
A similar process isn’t on the cards for marijuana since the crop remains federally illegal. This prohibitionist stance has been blamed for putting consumers and the environment at risk since the states which have legalized marijuana either for recreational or medicinal use have been left to develop their own consumer protection regulations without federal guidance.
Analysts believe industry players like SinglePoint Inc. (OTCQB: SING) and Sproutly Canada Inc. (CSE: SPR) (OTCQB: SRUTF) (FRA: 38G) must be frustrated by the federal government’s adamant stance on marijuana despite the growing evidence that the plant isn’t what it was thought to be in the past.
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