January 24 2020
More than 3,000 stem samples contributed by hundreds of Oregon cannabis farmers allowed Phylos Bioscience to map the genome of cannabis plants, each plant a star in a constellation of weed strains.
The "genetic galaxy project" made Portland-based Phylos one of Oregon's most prominent cannabis-related companies. But when Phylos announced last week it would launch its own breeding program—pursuing mildew-resistant strains, stronger hemp that sequesters more carbon, and high-THC, high-terpene flowers—local cultivators screamed foul.
They had given Phylos so much DNA, many felt the company had misled growers to gain a competitive advantage in the industry. In the past, Phylos said it had no plans to breed plants.
Cannabis growers responded to the move with allegations of theft. Phylos co-founder Mowgli Holmes says that's not true—and not possible.
"We can't steal their actual plants," Holmes says. "We wouldn't do that. It would be illegal to do that. And, scientifically, if you have a piece of dead [plant] material, you can't bring it back to life. That would be like bringing a person back from a fingernail."
But the company's reassurances that it won't be using the DNA profiles it has collected to power its breeding endeavors has not assuaged growers' fears. Many took to social media to harangue the company.
"It's going to make us a better company that everyone is so pissed at us all the time," Holmes says. "That's kind of a good thing. That will push us in the right direction."
Here's some of the pushing, on Phylos' Instagram page.
st.aubingenetics: Didn't you guys steal a bunch of genetics?!!? Not cool.
mzjillgrower: So you stole the genetics I paid you to test? You told me this wasn't true!
stephenbrewer1841: us breeders already do all that, seems to me you're trying to live on the blood of others.
dawg_daze_ak: @phylosbio no one gave you permission to do anything with their genetics other than test them for the client. You were paid for a service that you promoted and all the while you had another business idea you were in the works of. You people are slime balls. Going to sit back and watch while your company shits the bed.
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