HEMP has an enormous role to play in helping Europe achieve its climate objectives and create jobs and wealth, delegates to the 18th European Industrial Hemp Association (EIHA) conference heard.
Delivering the keynote opening lecture on the potential of hemp Polish MEP Adam Jarubas, said a positive step had been taken last autumn when the European Parliament voted in favour of increasing the authorised hemp THC levels.
“What was important was that during the voting on the CAP (Common Agricultural Policy) in autumn 2020 that the EP (European Parliament) agreed supporting increasing the THC levels in the authorised hemp varieties from 0.2% as indicated in the initial project of the European Commission, to 0.3% as it used to be in the EU before 1999.
“Now this will help to increase the biodiversity of plants as European farmers will be able to choose not from 60 but from 500 varieties which are more resistant to disease, have stronger fibres and shorter growth periods.
“It will at least help to some extent transcend the competitive position of the European hemp sector on the international market,” he added, as the EU would once again have a level playing field with the global industrial sector.
Mr Jarubas, who is deputy chairman of the Polish People’s Party and a long-time advocate of hemp, told delegates that in September last year he had been part of a group of MEPs that had sent a letter to the European Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, Stella Kyriakides, asking for clarification on the EU’s position on recognising hemp flowers and their extract from cannabis sativa as either a drug or food.
“As we know, the possibility of using hemp flowers is crucial in terms of viability for crops in the EU, especially in the context of international competition.
“In our letter we also drew attention to the fact of unequal treatment of synthetically sourced cannabidiol and natural extract within the Novel Food framework, even though the chemical composition is identical.”
Such an approach, he said, was surprising in the context of the European Green Deal (the EU’s aim of making Europe climate neutral by 2050) and its goals in terms of environment, climate, and society, as synthetic production entails energy consuming chemical processes resulting in CO2 emissions.
“Naturally sourced CBD,” Mr Jarubas said, “translates into capturing CO2 in great amounts and benefits the soil, biodiversity, and has potential for European farmers and SMEs.”
Whilst he said the EC had changed its position on hemp, it nevertheless made sense to continue exerting pressure as reviews were still under way.
Earlier, EIHA president Daniel Kruse had welcomed delegates to the virtual conference, whose theme this year is Hemp for Europe: Emerging Opportunities for the Green Recovery.
Yesterday, and over the next two days, experts from across the world will discuss how to unlock the potential of hemp to develop a sustainable economic model that reconciles agriculture, industry and the environment.
The event will also look at the future of hemp foods and supplements alongside industry regulation and insights.
Mr Kruse said EIHA, its board and members would do all they could to “ensure that in Europe industrial hemp will regain the status it deserves.”
He added that “fibre hemp farming, processing and the marketing of products, such as building materials, technical applications and animal bedding, will increase tremendously.
“But, of course, for this we need the whole plant approach. European fibres can only be competitive when seeds and leaves can be marketed at the same time.
“Vice versa, seeds and leaves will only be available on the market for a reasonable price as soon as fibre production increases.”
He said those involved with the conference were there to “unlock the full potential of hemp and discuss altogether how to make the most of all its applications from the textile sector to composites, food, supplements and medicines.”
Whole Plant Benefit
Also talking on the opening morning was Catherine Wilson, EIHA vice president, who spoke about the wonderful opportunities hemp could provide.
“We can actually offer solutions and genuine contributions,” she explained.
Hemp could reinforce economies and offer jobs and growth as well as reduce pollution, waste, and carbon emissions.
“We have one plant, and there is literally nothing in this plant that we can’t use. We can use everything. We can have food and all these materials and nothing goes to waste whilst capturing carbon,” Ms Wilson said.
She recognised that the hemp industry needed to be realistic about what it could contribute large scale in Europe, but construction was one of the big sectors.
“As an industry we are willing, we are ready and we want to work with you,” she concluded.
For further details on how to attend the virtual conference click here.