Israeli genetic seeds company CanBreed has bought a hemp farm in California, Globes reported on 24 November.

A portfolio company of the Smart Agro R&D Partnership, CanBreed planned to produce stable hemp seeds for sale in the USA at the 1.4ha San Diego farm.

The farm’s initial output was expected to be around 12.5M seeds/year, increasing to about 50M seeds/year, Globes said.

Founded in 2017, CanBreed developed genetically improved and stable seeds and was the first cannabis company to commercially license the patented CRISPR gene editing technology, Globes said.

CRISPR is an advanced new breeding technology used in the agro-tech industry to enhance crops.

The two scientists that developed the genetic scissors used in CRISPR gene editing were awarded the 2020 Nobel Prize in chemistry in October 2020.

CRISPR technology enables the precise cutting of the DNA of a plant in order to silence or to activate genes.

Short for clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats, CRISPR equips bacteria with the ability to recognise genetic sequences that viruses insert into their DNA, and disable them by snipping the DNA.

The technology has vast potential in the fields of medicine and agriculture.

CanBreed applies CRISPR technology on a range of agricultural crops including medical and industrial cannabis.

The company’s plans include adapting the plant’s structure for mechanised harvesting, increasing its protein content and adapting its cultivation to changing climates.

In the cannabis market, the company was offering solutions for all market segments: from medical cannabis through to industrial cannabis (hemp), including cannabis strains with a specific chemical profile suitable for the pharmaceutical industry, Globes said.

One of the main problems in cultivating cannabis was the lack of stability in the raw materials, Globes said, but CanBreed was planning to develop fully stable seeds by the end of 2020.

CanBreed announced in November that it had successfully edited the cannabis plant using CRISPR technology.

Work on the new farm was expected to begin in early 2021 with CanBreed planning to sell the stable hemp seeds in the USA by the end of 2021.

Hemp was grown on more than 200,000ha in the USA and the hemp seed market was estimated at about 2bn seeds/year, Globes said.