GM marijuana booms in South America, growers reap ten times market value

Thursday, June 30, 2011 by: Ethan A. Huff, staff writer
Tags: genetically modified, marijuana, health news

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(NaturalNews) Business is booming for sales of marijuana that has been genetically-modified (GM) to contain up to nine times more tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) than normal marijuana, according to a recent report by AFP.

The South American country of Colombia, which is known for its illicit drug trade, is apparently becoming a mecca for growing GM marijuana because the "frankenweed" is worth almost ten times the black market value of conventional marijuana.

Though growing marijuana is illegal in Colombia, many farmers have resorted to selling it on the black market to supplement their ailing incomes. In many cases, growing coffee and banana plants is not enough to sustain even a minimum standard of living, so many farmers now grow GM marijuana which sells for about $54 a kilo, which is the equivalent of 2.2 pounds.

"I don't like growing marijuana, but it ended up that way," said one farmer to AFP. "I received a loan to grow coffee, but I was drowning and I had to sell my harvest very cheap. My sister told me it would be better to plant marijuana."

According to the report, the seeds for GM marijuana are coming from sources in both Europe and the US, but their specific sources are unclear. One particular variety, called "La Cominera," contains about an 18 percent concentration of THC, while regular marijuana plants contain anywhere from two to seven percent THC on average.

Colombia farmers used to grow industrial hemp until international guidelines, prompted by anti-hemp countries like the US, ended up prohibiting it. So what was once a widely-cultivated, highly-valuable cash crop that benefited both the environment and the economy, is now an outlawed plant. Anti-hemp policies, of course, are a contributing factor to farmers' desperation in turning to GM marijuana as a source of income.

Hemp, as many NaturalNews readers already know, is not the same thing as marijuana -- it does not contain THC, and its seeds are a highly nutritious and medicinal food. And industrial hemp can be used to make clothing, paper, and other textile materials, and is a great alternative to cotton (

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