Genetically modified pot a license to print money in Colombia
Growers cashing in with seeds from Europe, U.S.
Genetically modified marijuana is reportedly a hit with Colombian farmers who say the "enhanced" plants are "more powerful and profitable," according to Agence France-Presse.
With varietal names like "creepy," who can doubt them?
Local authorities said the arrival of genetically modified seeds from Europe and the United States have allowed "a bigger production and better quality at the same time."
The head of one farm told AFP that a genetically modified variety known in Europe as "La Cominera," from a seed modified in The Netherlands, is sold for about 10 times the rate for "normal" marijuana.
One owner of a greenhouse an hour's drive from the city of Cali, said she can sell the modified marijuana for 100,000 pesos ($54) a kilo (2.2 pounds), which is nearly 10 times more than the price she can get for ordinary marijuana.
La Cominera is named for the Colombian village where it grows.
La Cominera's higher value is due to its increased concentration of THC, the plant's principal active ingredient, and the modified plant verges on an 18 percent concentration level, compared to a normal marijuana plant's 2 to 7 percent, said the researcher.
Another farmer tells AFP: "I don't like growing marijuana, but it ended up that way. 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."
Residents of Cali say they cannot sustain themselves on coffee and banana crops alone, because of price fluctuations and the difficulties in reaching markets in time, due to a poor road network.
Police commander Rodriguez said the GM crop's growth poses a problem for local law enforcement, because profits are often used to finance other criminal activity.
Police say that in this region of southwest Colombia, marijuana is the principle method of financing FARC — the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia — Latin America's largest and longest-fighting insurgency.
According to organized crime website InSight, the FARC have become the country's primary marijuana dealers, with the majority of seizures, normally between one and four tons, occurring along the Pacific coast, particularly in Cauca.
The Colombian army in March seized 2.3 tons of FARC-owned marijuana and destroyed several greenhouses, El Espectador reported.
"We believe that the sixth front of the FARC guerrilla forces are 90 percent financed by marijuana," Cauca Police Commander Colonel Carlos Rodriguez said, AFP reports.
This article originally appeared on GlobalPost.