Priscilla Agoncillo, Co-Founder and CEO of the Original Breeders League joined the GCI Content Hub in conversation.
Could you give our readers an overview of your professional background, and what led you to cannabis?
I was called into the cannabis industry while caring for my grandfather during the last years of his life. He was suffering from cancer and I desperately tried to have him consume cannabis oil to help with the pain and nausea he was experiencing as side effects of the medication he was prescribed. Throughout my career in cannabis, I have met thousands of patients who rely on cannabis as medicine. Learning that certain patients turn to specific cultivars to help manage specific medical conditions helped me to understand the significance of cannabis genetics and breeding and let me to Co-Found the first breeding platform that supports cannabis breeders. Since then, we have been successfully facilitating breeding projects across the globe and placing genetics into commercially viable channels.
As someone with intimate knowledge of cannabis cultivation and breeding, when we talk about sourcing top quality genetics, what characteristics should people be looking for from their genetics? How do you test your genetics and ensure that, in practice, they are suitable for your growing conditions?
Sourcing quality genetics requires extensive research and a deep knowledge of what qualities to look for. First, dealing with a reputable company helps to mitigate risks of fraud and loss or quality issues. For example, in our company we only sell seeds that have been stabilized after years of successful harvests with that specific cultivar. You want to secure stabilized genetics, so asking the company if the seeds you are buying are at the very least F6 or F7 will help you secure stabilized genetics. We do testing through our own platform and a third-party lab partnership for genotyping or DNA testing, pathogen testing and sex identification. Since cultivars can be acclimated to different environments, relying on the information and recommendations of the breeder is the best way to know if the genetic is going to thrive in a particular growing environment.
To what extent can a particular strain look likely to deliver everything you need, on paper, but not quite hit the mark when you’re cultivating in practice? How do you deal with occurrences like these?
On paper, cannabis genetics can only give you an idea of what can be produced; but in dealing with nature, many other things factor into what will be the final outcome of the plant. Cultivation practices and skill levels, environmental issues, pests and much more can affect how the cultivar will ultimately do. Having a good relationship and access to the breeder to answer questions as they arise is important to help mitigate some of the challenges growers will experience.
How important is it for breeders to own the IP over their genetics, and why?
One of our missions is to assist breeders in developing their intellectual property for their work in breeding and the new cultivars they create. It is important that breeders own their IP for their work because we need to support this facet of the cannabis industry to continue with innovation and genetic variety in the marketplace. Through this same effort we will be able to streamline the cannabis genetics sector of the cannabis industry so that businesses and consumers can rely on a more transparent and organized cannabis genetic marketplace.
The world of genetics often seems to be a closed shop, with folks keeping their cards particularly close to their chests. What type of collaboration is there in the pheno hunting space? How would you like to see this improved?
The world of genetics is a closed world, with very few real players or breeders, and it has been the greatest challenge for breeders to work in a safe environment to collaborate. Much of breeders’ work has been stolen and passed along without credit or companies thinking they can just rename genetics to they want because there are no legal ramifications in doing so. Companies with that type of behavior are causing problems for consumers, and indeed all stakeholders, in the cannabis industry. This causes confusion and does not promote transparency, leaving consumers confused and not understanding what they are taking into their bodies.
This is the reason why we created the platform – to provide a safe space for collaboration and collectively work together on addressing the issues of cannabis breeders, how to support their success and existence in the industry, and to help consumers access real information about what genetics they are consuming, to tailor them to their specific needs.
Through these efforts I would like to see truth and real variety delivered to consumers, breeders supported to continue their important work, and to reveal marketing tactics used by companies to mislead consumers into purchasing goods that they do not really want or need.
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