The world may be pretty fucked right now, but Europe has a unique opportunity to forge a better, brighter, greener future. And hemp can lead the way!
This is the message (pretty much) behind the European Industrial Hemp Association’s latest manifesto.
The Hemp Manifesto For A Green Recovery presents a radical and fresh approach to Europe’s economy, with low-THC cannabis (‘cos that’s what hemp is) taking centre stage.
Thanks to hemp’s “huge potential in speeding up the transition towards a zero-emission, bio-based and sustainable economy,” a government-supported industry could rejuvenate rural areas, deliver long-term sustainable growth and create highly skilled jobs across the EU rural economies.
Did you know?
The manifesto details some interesting facts about hemp, such as the fact that hemp is an “impressive carbon sink: while the plant fixes CO2 in the soil, thanks to its deep root system, its derived biomaterials further increase the overall capture balance of the crop. One hectare of hemp can capture up to 13.4 tons of CO2, making it as efficient as one hectare of tropical forest.”
It goes on to explain how hemp is one of the oldest crops grown by mankind and has been largely cultivated all over Europe since the very beginning of history.
This is down to hemp’s utility – all parts of hemp are used. Nothing goes to waste! Stalks, roots, leaves, flowers and seeds can be transformed and used for many different products: textile, paper, ropes, insulation material, fibre boards, bioplastics, compost, animal bedding, fuel, paint, feed, food, dietary supplements, cosmetics, medicinal preparations.
Here’s some more noteworthy facts to jot down for future debates on saving the world:
- Hemp biomass (in particular hempseed) is a source of high-quality proteins and has a unique essential fatty acid spectrum.
- Used as a catch crop, hemp improves the yields of subsequent crops and restores soil health: thanks to its root system it has the ability to remove heavy metals from soils.
- Hemp needs fewer inputs than most other fibre crops: water, pesticides and herbicides are used in low doses. Manure and other natural fertilisers represent 50% of the total fertilisers use. Organic is on the rise.
Following the legalisation of industrial hemp in the U.S. in 2018, other countries are already realising the huge economic benefits of low-THC cannabis, such as Lebanon, which recently passed a new law to legalise cannabis growing for medical and industrial purposes.
If Europe wants to have a meaningful stake the fast developing glogal hemp market, below are 10 steps that need to happen, according to the EIHA…
1. Public policies should promote hemp use in food, feed and manufactured products and finance the development of sustainable value chains.
2. The contribution to the environment of the hemp plant should be recognised and the use of hemp for carbon farming encouraged.
3. Member States should not apply the drug control legislations to hemp and its derived products, as long as the limits established for THC content are respected.
5. Operators should be allowed to harvest produce from all parts of the plant – including flowers and leaves – and market any kind of product, whilst maintaining compliance with the THC content limits.
6. Hemp and hemp preparations containing a naturally occurring cannabinoid content should not be considered as novel food.
7. Reasonable guidance values for THC in food and feed should be established.
8. All hemp derived raw materials should be permitted as ingredients for cosmetics.
9. The EU should value and promote the use of hemp fibres for the production of short and long fibre for textiles and favour the establishment of sustainable value chains.
10.The use of hemp-based construction and other materials should be incentivised both in public and private sectors, with clear goals for the total or partial substitution of other less sustainable alternatives.