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

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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.

In this episode we are addressing the following questions:

  1. We know hemp (German: Hanf); Cannabis, THC, CBD, Marihuana, Haschich → can you please explain the differences between these names? 04:34
  2. You told me that cannabis will feed the world in the future. What do you mean by that? 06:09
  3. Under which conditions Cannabis can be planted? Does it need a lot of water? Heat? 10:19
  4. Where do you see the potential in sustainability? And why? 12:00
  5. What is the “innovation” of breeding 3.0? What is the difference to CRISPR? Can you explain that non-experts? 13:08
  6. Cannabis has also other incredible features such as a high absorption rate of CO2 - So shall we plant Cannabis instead of forests? 22:20
  7. Would it be possible to grow cannabis through vertical farming? 27:47
  8. How will the revenue in the company change and what will change in the industry in the next 5 years? 29:05
  9. Are you expecting Switzerland will open its laws like California and Canada? 31:30
  10. What are the challenges in your company in the next 5 years? 33:32

Get more great stories around Climate Solutions at www.sustainnow.ch

Please check out show notes and background information: www.sustainnow.ch
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