A new hemp variety from Italian-Dutch developer Enecta has been added to the EU Catalog of Common Plant Varieties, the first cultivar bred specifically for high cannabinoid content to appear on the official list.
The new variety, called Enectarol, is rich in cannabigerol (CBG) and was developed after five years of research, said Jacopo Paolini, the founder of Enecta, and marks an important milestone in the company's ongoing effort to develop a new generation of high-quality, high-quality cannabinoid European hemp strains to complement the fiber and seed varieties that dominate the EU catalogue.
“There is a lack of true hemp flower varieties for cannabinoids in Europe, as most of the varieties in the catalog are fiber spin-offs,” Paolini said. “New genetics for industry are evolving at an incredible pace, but the common EU catalog does not reflect this evolution. The lack of new varieties is a pain point for the European hemp industry.”
What is MEB?
CBG (cannabigerol), is one of 120 cannabinoids found in cannabis. While cannabis stakeholders have long focused on developing THC and CBD, researchers and hemp breeders are now working together to better understand CBG and develop CBG-rich cultivars.
CBG is known as the “mother” or “OG” cannabinoid, due to the fact that it is the precursor to CBD (Cannabidiol), CBN (Cannabinol), CBC (Cannabichromene) and THCA (Tetrahydrocannabinolic acid).
CBG activates both CB1 and CB2 receptors in the endocannabinoid system, offering the promise that it could maintain the cumulative properties of all other cannabinoids together.
Studies have shown that CBG, taken internally, shows promise as a therapy for conditions such as glaucoma, inflammatory bowel disease, and Huntington's disease, and may inhibit tumor growth in some cases; it is known to kill or slow down bacteria and promote bone development.
The European Commission added CBG to the EU's database of cosmetic ingredients (Cosing) last year, making the compound safe for use in health and beauty products. As a topical, CBG works with the CB1 and CB2 endocannabinoid receptors, which are located in the skin. Proponents say the hemp-derived compound has anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and antioxidant properties that help the endocannabinoid system maintain healthy skin function.
Recent trials of Enectarol in Italy showed that the variety produces 5,5% CBG and less than 0,1% THC, half the limit under current EU rules for THC content. (The EU THC limit will rise to 0,3% under a change coming into effect next year).
Enectaliana for CBD
Meanwhile, Enecta also has Enectaliana developed, a high-CBD strain that the company has also added to the EU plant catalog and is expected to be approved in the coming months. That variety expresses up to 10% CBD with less than 0,2% THC.
Enecta sees markets for the two new varieties in the Czech Republic, Germany, Poland, Croatia, Romania, Greece, Hungary, Lithuania, France and Spain, as these countries have similar climate conditions to Italy.
Both Enecta varieties have been proven to have a germination rate of approximately 95%, well above the EU requirement of 70-80%. Light sensitive, unlike autoflowering strains, Enectarol and Enectialiana have proven to be strong performers in areas ranging from Greece to Lithuania. They produce abundant biomass output while reducing seed production and stem waste.
Security for farmers
To be eligible for the official EU plant list, new varieties must undergo a number of scientific tests to show that they produce uniform and stable plants. For growers, planting approved cultivars is not only a guarantee of the quality of the plant, but also a precondition for receiving direct EU agricultural subsidies, a crucial factor in making agricultural decisions.
Such testing and standards under certification are critical to the overall hemp industry and contribute to transparency, which is still lacking at many levels of the hemp supply chain.
“It's no mystery that it's still hard for consumers and growers to figure out what they're really buying or planting,” says Paolini. “That's crucial if, for example, you're planting a high-CBD variety and, due to poor genetic stability, aren't producing the plants you were hoping for. We need such next-generation hemp seeds to change the CBD industry.”
Quality through transparency
“It's not called 'supply chain' for nothing; quality is passed from one link to another. A more holistic approach is the only one that will be future-proof.”
Enecta has over 10 years of experience in the hemp and CBD industry, collaborating with leading researchers such as Giesen Research Group, Netherlands, and Berlin-based Becanex, a renowned extractor supplying the food and cosmetics sector.
In addition to the genetics division, Enecta is a producer and marketer of highly concentrated cannabinoid products for the medical, pharmaceutical and nutraceutical industries. Enecta, founded in the Netherlands in 2012, is based in Bologna, Italy.