Testing Lab Sheds Light on the Pesticide Problem

testing lab
Written by Cara Wietstock

Steep Hill testing lab has released research showing that pesticide contamination begins in the cloning process.

Earlier this year Steep Hill shocked the cannabis world with a report that a mass majority of California cannabis was contaminated with potentially harmful pesticides. Many of the producers involved in the study swore that pesticides were not in their growing practices, but still, these results were correct. This led to the newest report from Steep Hill which traces the pesticides back to cannabis clones and the growing media they’re found in. The report was co-authored by Reggie Gaudino, Ph.D., and Donald Land, Ph.D.

“The report documents clone sources and locations, descriptions of how samples were prepared and analyzed, and the comprehensive findings,” Reggie Gaudino, Ph.D. and author of the study stated. “A crucial issue in the industry is that very few growers are breeding to deliver genetic stability, unlike other crops which have been stabilized over decades utilizing sophisticated agricultural processes.”

Steep Hill was concerned with pinpointing exactly where in the cultivation process these flowers were becoming inundated with pesticides. This is how they found out that the issue began at the root of it all, in the process of cloning. So the testing lab reached out to those selling clones in California and received a very small number of volunteer plants. They then set out and purchased clones on their own, in no systematically randomized fashion. As a result of this groundwork, the study takes 124 clones into account.

Donald Land, Ph.D., and a co-author of the report remarked, “When the ‘mothers’ of clones are contaminated with pesticides, particularly those that are systemic, so too are the clone’s offspring. We look forward to working with the California cannabis industry to establish best practices to substantially reduce the need for the use of pesticides as a whole, and to help set the standard for clean clone production in the future.”

To read more about the exact methods and Shimadzu machines that were used check out the full study on the Steep Hill website. As for what the authors found, less than 14% of the randomly selected clones were free from any pesticide residue. Furthermore, 77.4% of the clones failed current proposed California Cannabis pesticide regulations. This is because (as the report reads) levels of pesticides consistent in clone propagation materials imply that they are dipped in the harmful compounds.

In the non-threatened agricultural industries, seeds are bred for generations to promote stability and thus don’t need this type of assistance in the root growth phase of cloning. Steep Hill geneticists believe that these practices used to fortify root growth have become common in cannabis culture because of a lack of genetic breeding.

Gaudino continued on the subject, “Stable genetic lines provide the ability to grow from seed and thus produce hardy, reproducible product. We need to work together to ensure that traditional practices in the industry are re-examined and changed in light of this data.”

The alarming reality that we are now facing is that the majority of California cannabis that is currently being grown will not pass the proposed pesticide levels. But the report does leave us with the ability to move forward with new knowledge because clearly some of the growers using these mediums didn’t realize they were spreading pesticides throughout generations of their cannabis flowers. Now we can move forward with more knowledge of good practices in an industry that is very new to regulations.

Read the full study: http://landing.steephill.com/cleanclones

About the author

Cara Wietstock

Cara began working in the retail cannabis industry of San Francisco, CA in 2011 and continued in that sector for years. In 2015 she dedicated herself to writing full-time. Her passion for the written word and deep respect for the healing properties of the plant have brought her to Terpenes and Testing magazine. She now helps keep us on the cutting edge of scientific cannabis discovery as the Editor-in-Chief of the print publication.

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