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  • Friederike

09: Cannabis as "magic" solution plant for climate change - Interview with Gavin George, Puregene

Dr. Gavin George is a co-founder and CEO of Puregene AG. The Swiss company has developed a technology stack that harnesses the power of genomics for trait discovery and predictive plant breeding, using massive datasets and machine learning to assemble tailored elite varieties, fit for industry. He was awarded a PhD in 2010 from Stellenbosch University before his 7 years at the ETH Zurich as a Postdoctoral researcher. He has authored 12 peer reviewed publications and contributed to 6 books.

"We are a 4-year-old company, with 15 PhDs, who have created the largest trait discovery program in cannabis that has mapped over 350 traits to genomes containing 50'000'000 identified polymorphisms, using over 40'000 unique plants, 120'000 images, all fed into a genomics prediction platform aimed at disrupting cannabis and incumbent agricultural crop production."

We will talk about the different usages of the Cannabis plants, why Cannabis could feed the world, the difference to soy and how sustainable Cannabis really is. We also talk about why the Jurassic Park book and movie inspired him to explore genome editing but also thinking about security at the same time.

You can listen to this new episode on Spotify:

You can also listen to this podcast at Apple Podcast, Google Podcast or other major podcast distributors.

In this episode we are addressing the following questions:

04:34 - We know hemp (German: Hanf); Cannabis, THC, CBD, Marihuana, Haschich → can you please explain the differences between these names?

06:09 - You told me that cannabis will feed the world in the future. What do you mean by that?

10:19 - Under which conditions Cannabis can be planted? Does it need a lot of water? Heat?

12:00 - Where do you see the potential in sustainability? And why?

13:08 - What is the “innovation” of breeding 3.0? What is the difference to CRISPR? Can you explain that non-experts?

22:20 - Cannabis has also other incredible features such as a high absorption rate of CO2 - So shall we plant Cannabis instead of forests?

27:47 - Would it be possible to grow cannabis through vertical farming?

29:05 - How will the revenue in the company change and what will change in the industry in the next 5 years?

31:30 - Are you expecting Switzerland will open its laws like California and Canada?

33:32 - What are the challenges in your company in the next 5 years?

Different plant-based proteins ranked based on their protein incl. Hemp seeds.

source: Pinterest

CRISPR is a technology that can be used to edit genes.

The essence of CRISPR is simple: it’s a way of finding a specific bit of DNA inside a cell. After that, the next step in CRISPR gene editing is usually to alter that piece of DNA. However, CRISPR has also been adapted to do other things too, such as turning genes on or off without altering their sequence.

There were ways to edit the genomes of some plants and animals before the CRISPR method was unveiled in 2012 but it took years and cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. CRISPR has made it cheap and easy.

Great quotes from the episode by Gregor

"I started my life really interested in how biology could change the world"

"Cannabis is the most fascinating and enormously powerful plant that we have available to us"

"Cannabis you can grow anywhere and today it produces 60% more of the amount of protein per acre than soy does"

"Our prototypes can capture as much as 10 times more carbon as eucalyptus trees (for capturing CO2)"


Puregene Hemp vs Soy
Download PDF • 5.61MB

Puregene - Hemp cellulose primer
Download PDF • 550KB

Puregene Hemp for Biogas
Download PDF • 2.66MB



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