Natural selection or domestication?

A photograph of hemp (Cannabis sativa L.) in S...
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Apparently scientists from Environmental Science and Research (ESR) have established that cannabis grown in New Zealand is four times stronger than when they last tested 14 years ago ( see Cannabis grown in NZ stronger than ever, study finds).

I wonder if this is just an example of evolution by natural selection.

Or is it domestication?

Conscious selection?

Maybe even intelligent design?

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10 responses to “Natural selection or domestication?

  1. Artificial selection. Just like Darwin’s examples of pigeons.

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  2. Intelligent design, definitely. Kiwis are intelligent. bohohoo..

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  3. I guess pigeon breeding was realy intelligent artificial selection. The breeders had some sort of target and consciously chose their breeding birds.

    I wonder if NZ growers have been selecting the seeds consciously or unconsciously. If the former I wonder what sort of testing they used, if any, beyond the obvious.

    I am sort of wondering how sophisticated our growers are.

    Maybe some have even thought about using GE?

    Sent from my iPod

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  4. I would assume that, like any other plant breeders, they would be selecting quite deliberately for desirable traits. I am guessing, with the amount of investment going into these operations the more sophisticated setups would use cloned plants, rather than taking their luck with seed.

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  5. It might be a good idea to read the paper in Forensic Science International before expending too much effort trying to explain this “observation”. From the news report in Stuff, it seems the comparison is between cannabis grown last year by ESR scientists and police versus the average ESR found the last time they tested (material of unstated provenance) in 1996.

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  6. @Ken, you should maybe try and find the chapter on cannabis in Michael Pollan’s Botany of Desire for an insight into breeding and growing techniques.

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  7. Pingback: Nibbles: Recognizing breeds, Cannabis in New Zealand, Farming systems data, Maize inbreds, Zinc in wheat, Markets for nature, Ramie, Milklet and drought

  8. @Mark: I’ve looked and can’t find the reference. Can you provide the citation, please?

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  9. @Jeremy: I haven’t read the paper, I’m just saying it might be a good idea to do so when it appears before trying to explain the result.

    The Stuff articles says “The THC level – the primary intoxicant – varied between 4.35% and 25.3% during the study completed under Ministry of Health licence between 2004 and 2006. When ESR last tested the Class C drug, they found an average THC level of just 6%.” Hm, was an average of 6%, now between 4.35% and 25.3%.

    Does that suggest a phenotypic shift due to breeding pressure? Or just a lot of variation?

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  10. @Mark: totally agree, which is why I thought you might already have seen it. Thanks.

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