Israeli company makes ‘stable and uniform’ cannabis seeds for 1st export

The seeds were shipped this week to the United States, the first time ever that cannabis seeds have been exported from Israel.

Hemp seeds cannabis sativa (photo credit: ERIK FENDERSON)
Hemp seeds cannabis sativa
(photo credit: ERIK FENDERSON)

A shipment of cannabis seeds was exported from Israel for the first time ever. The shipment headed to the United States on Tuesday night was an “experimental and initial” shipment, Israel’s Ministry of Agriculture said Wednesday in a statement.

This comes almost a year after the Israeli government changed the medical cannabis shipping laws to allow the export of cannabis seeds, beginning last August.

"Israel has the ability to leave its mark on the industry and be among the world leaders," Israel’s Minister of Agriculture Oded Forer said in a statement.

“The export of cannabis seeds invites us to expand the diversity of Israeli agricultural exports and strengthens local agriculture,” Forer said. It also “exploits Israel’s relative advantage in an area that is still considered preliminary,” he added.

The shipment carried seeds produced by the Israeli company BetterSeeds, which created the first stable and uniform cannabis seeds worldwide. The seeds will be examined and undergo trials at the farms of commercial growers of hemp in the US.

Hemp stem showing fibers (credit: USER: NATRIJ/PUBLIC DOMAIN/VIA WIKIMEDIA COMMONS)Hemp stem showing fibers (credit: USER: NATRIJ/PUBLIC DOMAIN/VIA WIKIMEDIA COMMONS)

Hemp is a botanical class of cannabis sativa that is often cultivated for its strong fiber.

Ido Margalit, founder and CEO of the BetterSeeds company, told The Media Line that he is hopeful that this trial will generate positive results and impress the commercial farmers of hemp.

“I hope that once they are really impressed by the performance of our genetics, we will receive the orders,” he said.

Margalit pointed out that just exporting this experimental shipment was a real achievement. “It was not even possible for us to show to customers outside of Israel what we are doing because it was legally impossible to do so,” he said.

Roei Zerahia, a cannabis industry expert, faculty member at Shenkar College, and former CEO at Canndoc, explained why, although exporting cannabis seeds has been allowed since August 2021, the first shipment was just exported this week.

The reason, he told The Media Line, “is that it takes time from the decision making until all the paperwork is ready and a process can be initiated.”

He added that the same thing happened with the export of flowers, which was approved in 2019; the first actual shipment was only in 2020.

Margalit said that BetterSeeds led the change of the law in Israel to enable the export of cannabis seeds.

He added that the company recently completed all the requirements needed to enable the export of the cannabis seeds, “and thus we are the first company in Israel to export cannabis seeds.”

“It's the first time ever that cannabis seeds have been exported from Israel. It was legally impossible to do that up until now,” he said.

Margalit explained that, after the law was changed, regulations and their definitions needed to be set, in a process involving the Agriculture and Health ministries. “Now that those have been completed, we have successfully exported the cannabis seeds,” he said.

Israeli companies won't be able to compete in the recreational cannabis market in the US, since they are only allowed to grow and export medical cannabis under current law. But Zerahia thinks that they could definitely be competitors in the medical cannabis market and in the clinical and agrotechnical spaces.

He said that the added value of the Israeli cannabis seeds is that they are based on research and, because of that, growers “know exactly what they are getting.”

Margalit noted that the exported seeds are unique and could revolutionize the American cannabis growing process.

“Our cannabis seeds are 100% stable and uniform,” he said. “Quite a lot of the industry in the United States is based on vegetative cloning. They don't use seeds in order to grow the plants, they do vegetative reproductions from clones,” Margalit added.

Using our seeds, he continued, “they will get the needed uniformity that they cannot get today from their seeds.”

The only difficulty, added Margalit, “is the fact that for us to produce hemp seeds in Israel is quite expensive because the current regulations for medical cannabis apply also to hemp.”

Forer said in the statement that allowing cannabis seed exports will be beneficial to Israeli companies. "Increasing the range of exports and extending it to cannabis products will deepen existing markets and penetrate new markets while tapping into the growing wave of demand for cannabis products with medical value," he said.