Methods for Lower Nicotine Validated

    Photo: Matt Mullen

    22nd Century Group and North Carolina State University (NCSU), have completed successful research field trials that have validated new non-GMO methodologies for reducing nicotine in tobacco plants. The research was partially funded by 22nd Century and was conducted by NCSU’s Department of Crop and Soil Science with project oversight provided by 22nd Century’s R&D team.

    The research findings and paper can be viewed here.

    As an alternative to older, genetic-engineering technologies that result in the creation of plants regulated as GMOs, the NCSU researchers used newer, non-CRISPR, non-GMO, gene editing technologies to consistently achieve reductions in nicotine levels by as much as 99 percent, when compared to conventional tobacco plants. This reduction in nicotine levels is believed to be caused by the inactivation of several genes believed to encode for enzymes involved in nicotine biosynthesis in the plant. 22nd Century has earlier filed a patent application with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to secure intellectual property rights for this non-GMO genetic approach that achieves very low nicotine content (VLNC) levels in tobacco plants using non-GMO methodologies.

    “We are very pleased with the outcome of the research field trials completed in collaboration with NCSU, which demonstrate that non-GMO methodologies can be applied reliably to reduce nicotine levels in tobacco plants by up to 99 percent,” said Juan Sanchez Tamburrino, vice president of research and development for 22nd Century. “To further validate our research, 22nd Century and NCSU will conduct larger scale and more extensive field trials in additional geographies.”

    The additional field trials will test these new, non-GMO, VLNC tobacco lines in multiple locations and soil conditions, allowing 22nd Century to select VLNC tobacco plants for optimal performance in different locations.

    “This research marks a key milestone in 22nd Century’s reduced nicotine content tobacco R&D program and further extends our product development opportunities by enabling the creation of VLNC tobacco plants of many varieties, including bright, burley and oriental tobaccos,” said Michael Zercher, 22nd Century’s president and chief operating officer. “This non-GMO technology is also key to commercializing our VLNC tobacco cigarettes in international markets where non-GMO products are important. We are pleased with our R&D team’s progress and excited about this unique technology developed in collaboration with NCSU.”