Industrial hemp, EIHA conference in Cologne, 5-6.6.19

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We attended the 16th international conference on industrial hemp, organized in Cologne on 5-6.6.19 by nova-Institute together with EIHA(Industrial Hemp Association). Brief report with some reflections to follow.

EIHA 16th Hemp Conference, June 2019

The states-general of the global industrial hemp supply chain-410 participants from 49 countries-gathered in Cologne, 5-6.6.19, at the 16th edition of the most important conference on the subject. (1) For broad sharing on the health of the sector, research and development prospects in various agricultural and industrial areas (food and food supplement production, cosmetics, feed, bioplastics, green building materials, textiles and fibers, circular economy and renewable energy), policies and regulations.

Global demand for hemp-based products-particularly foods, cosmetics, and CBD (cannabidiol, a nonpsychoactive extract with numerous proven health-promoting properties)-is growing steadily. Crops in Europe will reach 50,000 hectares this year, of which about 4,000 are in Italy. Across the Atlantic, productions in Canada are growing (>50,000 ha), while in the U.S. new crops have been started right in Kentucky-the historical home of the tobacco of the same name-with the motto ‘Make Hemp Great Again!‘ China in turn is investing great resources in agriculture and research on industrial hemp. Serving mainly the textile industry-thanks to biodegradable, microplastic-free fibers-and the automotive industry. As well as for the production of foods, cosmetics and CBD. India, Kazakhstan, Thailand, and other countries to follow.

Innovation is progressing apace and is one of the most important drivers of the hemp industry. The ‘Hemp Product of the Year 2019‘ award was given to three products:

1) Trifilon AB (Sweden), trolley case made of BioLite, polypropylene reinforced with 30 percent hemp fiber. Trifilon was founded by researchers at Linköping University with the idea of developing an environmentally friendly alternative to plastic. Hemp is one of the strongest natural fibers and can be used as a biocompound to make fully recyclable bioplastics. Which, unlike traditional plastics, are derived from renewable sources (plants), which sequester carbon in the atmosphere. The trolley is just one example, to which chairs, toys, and containers are added, as well as soundproof panels, exterior bodywork, and interior modules for cars and other vehicles. Strong, lightweight and durable materials,

2) BAFA Neu GmbH (Germany), Absolute HempProtein. A protein concentrate (70%) derived from hemp, in powder form, 100% natural, also available in ‘organic’ version. Hazelnut-like flavor, cream color, creamy texture. Devoid of insoluble fiber, the powder can be mixed with liquids-for example, in fruit smoothies-or used in other foods. A valuable source of hypoallergenic protein for vegan and non-vegan audiences,

3) Hemptouch d.o.o. (SIovenia) face cream. Hemptouch Balancing Face Cream is a skin care product formulated with three industrial hemp extracts. Hemp hydrolate, cannabidiol (CBD) and hemp seed oil. Hemp hydrolate has antimicrobial properties, shrinking pores and smoothing skin, while CBD extract helps control excess sebum secretion and acne. Hemp seed oil in turn nourishes and restores radiance to the skin.

The Raw Vegan Shake by Hempster HB (Sweden), among the top six, is also worthy of attention. The Raw Vegan Shake is an organic hemp seed drink in four flavors(Chocolate, Chai Latte, Cocos and Vanilla Malt). (2) A note of credit also goes to Hanfling of Hanfwerk (Germany). A ready-to-eat, organic vegan food whose appearance vaguely resembles a small sausage. Available in Nature, Bombay and Chorizo versions, Hanfling is made from hemp seeds, also processed like soybeans to produce tofu. So are the pates of numerous flavors already distributed in a hundred German supermarkets and organic stores.

Industrial Hemp and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

The report ‘Cannabis & Sustainable Development, paving the way for the next decade in cannabis and hemp policies,’ presented at the conference, was published in March 2019 by a group of Austrian researchers. (3) To share academic research results on the potential contribution of the Cannabis Sativa L. supply chain to the achievement of 15 of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in UN Agenda 2030.

The lush plant appeared in Central Asia around 5000 BC. Over the millennia its seeds, as food, and fiber have been used for various purposes. Including building materials, locally produced and efficient. More recently, the ability of roots to decontaminate soils, biomass yields to produce energy (even in small, local-scale plants), the possibility of making renewable and recyclable plant plastics, and more have been successfully tested.

Thefood use of Hemp Sativa L. has crucial importance in mitigating malnutrition(End Hunger, SDG no. 2). Its seeds consist of about 30 percent oil and 25 percent protein, as well as carbohydrates and dietary fiber, vitamins and minerals. Hemp seed oil obtained by mechanical extraction contains more than 80 percent polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs). Alpha-linolenic acid (ω3, Omega3) and linoleic acid (ω6, Omega6) in the ideal ratio of 2.5:1. (4) Biological metabolites of two other essential fatty acids, gamma-linolenic acid and stearidonic acid, are also present. (5)

Meanwhile, in Europe, bilious officials serve special interests in antithesis to the common good and sustainable development. In the Bel Paese then, populism and superficiality animate politics and justice. To the detriment and discredit of a promising agro-industrial supply chain – of which Italy itself was a global player for centuries – that needs to be promoted as prescribed by a state law still in force. (6)

Dario Dongo

Notes

(1) The dynamism of the sector is evidenced by the massive participation of SMEs and start-ups as well as university researchers (82% and 8% of the 330 participants from 40 countries, respectively, at the 2018 edition of the EIHA Conference)
(2) The reference to ‘milk’, of course, will have to be deleted to avoid running afoul of the ban on
milk sounding
. Although it has recently been tolerated in Italy by the Antitrust Authority (see previous article)
(3) Riboulet-Zemouli K, Anderfuhren-Biget S, Díaz Velásquez M and Krawitz M. (2019). ‘Cannabis & Sustainable Development: Paving the way for the next decade in Cannabis and hemp policies.’ FAAAT think & do tank, Vienna
(4) Institute of Natural Fibres and Medicinal Plants, INFMP (2017). ‘Cannabis (Cannabis sativa L.) a valuable plant useful and medicinal‘. Postępy Fitoterapii Vol. 02/2017
(5) Callaway J C. (2004). ‘Hempseed as a nutritional resource: An overview‘. Euphytica 140: 65 /72 . doi.org/10.1007/s10681-004-4811-6
(6) Law 242/16, ‘Provisions for the promotion of the cultivation and agro-industrial chain of hemp