The Boston-based biotech firm Gingko Bioworks Inc. recently announced a major partnership with Canadian cannabis company Cronos Group Inc. to work on what could be a groundbreaking and potentially epoch-shifting innovation in cannabis production. Taking a page straight out of Jurassic Park, Gingko wants to use plant DNA to genetically (re)produce cannabinoids directly, without growing the cannabis plants that naturally produce them.
Why Grow Plants When You Can Just Make THC?
The cannabis plant produces more than one hundred different chemical compounds called phytocannabinoids, or cannabinoids for short. The two most popular, market-worthy, and ubiquitous are THC and CBD. But there are dozens of other medicinally or recreationally relevant cannabinoids in cannabis. The problem is that they occur in such small or trace amounts that there’s no profitable way to extract and concentrate them at scale. Which means that to obtain these rare cannabinoids, consumers have to turn to flower or other “whole-plant” consumption methods.
But Cronos Group and Gingko Bioworks want to change that. According to Bloomberg, Gingko is working for Cronos to develop methods for engineering cannabis’ active compounds genetically. In other words, independent of the plant.
Instead, Gingko wants to isolate the rare, trace cannabinoids in the