The move could see pollution drop down considerably by using Hemp biomass to create plastic.

November 24, 2009 – Up until now, scientists have always considered that the only possible way of producing plastic, one of the main materials in our civilization, is through modifying and altering fossil fuels, primarily oil. But now, a team of South Korean scientists has managed to produce the compound for the first time without using any of these polluting fuels. Rather than extracting it from chemicals, they have managed to bioengineer it, proving once and for all that changes can be made to our way of life through innovation.

The achievement does make one wonder how it is that it was not made in one of the countries where the oil companies ruled, such as the United States or Canada. In short, there is no interest in such products in these nations, where the extent of the influence that oil corporations have on governments is difficult to quantify.

The South Korean accomplishment also points at the fact that the oil industry is indeed dispensable. Previous studies, done elsewhere, also demonstrated that plastic-like compounds, even more efficient than the actual plastics, could be made of hemp as well.

“The polyesters and other polymers we use everyday are mostly derived from fossil oils made through the refinery or chemical process. The idea of producing polymers from renewable biomass has attracted much attention due to the increasing concerns of environmental problems and the limited nature of fossil resources. PLA is considered a good alternative to petroleum based plastics as it is both biodegradable and has a low toxicity to humans,” Professor Sang Yup Lee, the leader of the new study, explains. The research was done by the KAIST University and the Korean chemical company LG Chem.

Until now, the PLA compound has only been produced via an intricate fermentation and polymerization process, but, currently, the team believes that it may have discovered a cheaper, just-as-effective method of synthesizing it. Now, via the use of metabolically engineered strains of E.coli bacteria, the product can be obtained from a simple, direct fermentation process. “By developing a strategy which combines metabolic engineering and enzyme engineering, we’ve developed an efficient bio-based one-step production process for PLA and its copolymers. This means that a developed E. coli strain is now capable of efficiently producing unnatural polymers, through a one-step fermentation process,” Lee adds.

“Global warming and other environmental problems are urging us to develop sustainable processes based on renewable resources. This new strategy should be generally useful for developing other engineered organisms capable of producing various unnatural polymers by direct fermentation from renewable resources,” the expert concludes. Source.

October 21, 2009 – In New Zealand, the tiny political party Aotearoa HempLegalise Cannabis Party (ALCP) promotes a platform that it says can “reverse” damaging climate change by planting hundreds of thousands of hectares of cannabis hemp, ALCP says, at a density of around 300 plants per square meter, to replace NZ’s energy and fuel needs.

Yes, it sounds far-fetched, especially since in the US farmers have labored long and hard to get lawmakers to stop confusing non-cannabis industrial hemp grown for its myriad uses in industrial fibers and foods with its cannabis cousin.

Longtime hemp activist Jack Herer is offering $100,00 to anyone who can disprove his hypothesis that hemp is a silver bullet for climate change. Here’s Herer:

“If all fossil fuels and their derivatives, as well as trees for paper and construction, were banned in order to save the planet, reverse the Greenhouse Effect and stop deforestation, then there is only one known annually renewable natural resource that is capable of providing the overall majority of the world’s paper and textiles; meet all of the world’s transportation, industrial and home energy needs, while simultaneously reducing pollution, rebuilding the soil and cleaning the atmosphere all at the same time. That substance is the same one that has done it before: Cannabis Hemp.”

Anyone who can prove this statement wrong is entitled to $US 100,000. http://www.jackherer.com/challenge.html

Herer’s mixing of cannabis hemp with industrial hemp is a little unfortunate, for according to Hemp Global Solutions, hemp could be a good short term climate tool, because the crop is rapid-growing for carbon dioxide uptake, less vulnerable to climate variations than agro-forestry, and might be a good cash crop for farmers. HGS calculates each ton of hemp grown represents 1.63 tons of CO2 absorption.

Whether in the U.S. the Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2009 can come to a vote during this session is uncertain. But Jack Herer isn’t the only person to espouse hemp. Dr. Bronner’s president, David Bronner, is among a small group of hemp farmers hoping to get more coverage for the bill.

Eight states (including Oregon as the most recent) have allowed industrial (non cannabis) hemp research or production, but thus far implementation has been hampered by the Drug Enforcement Agency.

Bronner, whose company has used hemp oil in its products for over a decade, was arrested in Washington, DC last week for planting hemp on the DEA front lawn. He said he’d rather buy his hemp from U.S. farmers instead of importing it, and “save on both import and freight charges.”

Source.

October 11, 2009 – Within the next three weeks, State Sen. Joey Pendleton plans to take a group of Kentucky farmers to study the industrial hemp trade in Canada where the crop has been grown legally for Picture 5the past 10 years.

Pendleton, D-Hopkinsville, has introduced a bill for 2010, renewing a push to legalize industrial hemp in Kentucky as a cash crop and as a source for alternative fuels.

“The timing is right,” Pendleton said. “It would give farmers another crop to raise.” Production of hemp is already legal for research purposes in Kentucky but is untried due to federal barriers.

Margaret McCauley of Versailles holds hemp fiber used to make rope. She favors the renewal of hemp production in Kentucky.

A hemp processing plant from around 1908 still stands on land owned by Margaret McCauley’s family in Versailles. She preserves artifacts from the era when hemp was legally raised in Kentucky. 

Pendleton’s bill comes at a time when federal legislation decriminalizing hemp for industrial use has been introduced in Congress and proponents are encouraged by stances taken by the Obama Administration.

In Versailles, where the remnants of an old hemp processing plant still stand on property that Margaret McCauley’s family owns, McCauley said she hopes Pendleton is successful.

“I think industrial hemp would do a lot for the farming community,” said McCauley, who has preserved artifacts from decades ago when hemp was grown legally in Kentucky.

McCauley said she hopes lawmakers won’t confuse industrial hemp with its controversial cousin, marijuana.

Although industrial hemp comes from the same plant species as marijuana, industrial hemp does not have enough THC, the psychoactive chemical in marijuana, to produce the “high” marijuana users feel, proponents say. Hemp and marijuana look alike. But hemp is grown for fiber found in the stalk while marijuana is grown for leaves and flower buds.

Industrial hemp is used in alternative automobile fuels and in such products as paper, cloths, cosmetics, and carpet.

Pendleton’s bill would require that individuals wanting to grow or process industrial hemp be licensed by the state Department of Agriculture. The legislation would require criminal history checks of growers and would require sheriffs to monitor and randomly test industrial hemp fields.

The bill calls for an assessment fee of $5 per acre for every acre of industrial hemp grown, with a minimum fee of $150, to be divided equally between the state and the appropriate sheriff’s department.

Phillip Garnett, a Christian County farmer, said he plans to go to Canada with Pendleton to investigate industrial hemp farming as a potential “new source of income and energy.” Pendleton said he’d pay for his portion of the trip.

Garnett who raises tobacco, corn, wheat, and soybeans, said he wants to know more about the economics before he would consider raising industrial hemp. But he said “I’m always looking for alternative crops, and it sounds like it makes sense.”

Because of current federal law, all hemp included in products sold in the United States must be imported.

Federal law includes industrial hemp in the definition of marijuana, and prohibits American farmers from growing hemp.

But the Industrial Hemp Farming Act, introduced in Congress in April by Reps. Barney Frank, D-Mass., and Ron Paul, R-Texas, would require the federal government to respect state laws allowing hemp production.

Pendleton says he sees new hope that federal barriers will be lessened, pointing to positions taken by the Obama administration.

In February, the San Francisco Chronicle reported that U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said the federal government was going to yield medical marijuana jurisdiction to states. As a state lawmaker in Illinois, Barack Obama voted for a resolution urging Congress to allow the production of industrial hemp.

In addition to production of hemp, research on hemp has been affected. A federal permit is required for industrial hemp research, Laura E. Sweeney, a spokesperson for the U.S. Department of Justice, said Friday.

The University of Kentucky would probably grow industrial hemp for research if allowed in the future, said Scott Smith, dean of the UK School of Agriculture.

When UK applied for a federal permit to grow a research plot of industrial hemp after Kentucky passed the 2001 law allowing analysis, the federal government denied permission, Smith said.

Kentucky is one of eight states that allows hemp research or production.

The federal government has given North Dakota State University permission to grow industrial hemp for research purposes under strict security measures, but money has been an issue.

In Kentucky, a similar bill filed in the 2009 General Assembly by Pendleton was not given a hearing.

But for 2010, state State Sen. David P. Givens, R-Greensburg, the chair of the Senate Agricultural Committee, said he is interested in seeing new economic studies.

The most prominent studies on the profitability of industrialized hemp in Kentucky are a decade old. They reached conflicting conclusions.

A study released in 1998 included work by researchers at UK’s Center for Business and Economic Research. It showed that had hemp production been legalized at that time, Kentucky would have benefited, with farmers making profits of between $220 and $605 an acre.

The returns would have fallen somewhere between tobacco and other crops that were already grown in Kentucky, the research showed.

However, a study released in 1997 by the UK College of Agriculture did not find much of a market for Kentucky hemp.

Smith, who served on an industrial hemp study commission convened by then Gov. Brereton Jones in the 1990s, remains skeptical of the potential profits from hemp.

Givens said he is also interested in hearing from law enforcement officials, who have expressed misgivings in the past.

Christian County Sheriff Livy Leavell Jr. said additional revenue for sheriff’s departments “would be a plus” and that he hoped members of the Kentucky Sheriff’s Association would take a close look at the legislation.
Source. By Mark Cornelison.

September 23, 2009 – Anyone who believes that the hemp industry is best left to the half-baked stoners of the world should spend a few hours talking textiles with Ken Barker. Five minutes intorhds20-100 the conversation it becomes clear that this guy is onto something big, and he knows exactly what he is doing.

Barker recently served as head of apparel at Adidas North America in Portland. Before that he held executive positions with Adidas and Levi Strauss in Canada. He knows how hard it is for apparel companies to meet the rising demand for clothing from earth-friendly sources. When he was with Adidas he entertained proposals to make fabric from soy, bamboo, even seaweed. None of them made as much sense as hemp, the plant that once served as the backbone of U.S. industry before it was banned in the 1930s.

Barker and another former Adidas executive, David Howitt (a brain behind the success of Oregon Chai), run an investment firm in Northwest Portland called the Meriwether Group. They have two hemp companies in their portfolio. Living Harvest, which makes hemp milk, is one of the fastest growing companies in Oregon. Naturally Advanced Technologies, the company Barker has run since 2006, recently raised more than $900,000 and plans to get its product to market within six months.

You know you’re talking to an entrepreneur when you ask how close they got to running out of money and you get a grin and a nod. “We took it down to under $200,000 just 30 days ago,” says Barker. “But once we were able to announce that we had some global players signed on as partners, we went out and raised a quick million dollars. That’s enough to take it to commercial production.”

NAT’s partnerships with the decidedly non-hippy powerhouses Hanes and Georgia Pacific offer hints about the company’s plans. The goal is the no-nonsense, low-cost, mass production of industrial hemp, initially for the apparel and pulp industries and eventually for natural plastics and biofuels. The company has trademarked a fiber technology called Crailar that Barker hopes to build into the next big apparel ingredient in the tradition of Lycra and Gore-Tex, but plant-based and organic.

The idea isn’t to replace the mountains of petroleum-based polyester used by Nike and Adidas, or the fields of pesticide-covered cotton gobbled up by Hanes and Levi Strauss, but rather to introduce Crailar into the existing system of textile manufacturing, as an option for manufacturers interested in going green. Thus the partnership with Hanes and textile researchers at North Carolina State.

The same general principle applies to the pulp industry, which is in deep trouble these days and could use some fresh ideas. Think paper towels and napkins without the stumps. The fact that Georgia Pacific has signed on suggests that the potential is there.

Barker calls hemp a “super-crop.” There is no disputing that hemp is a proven performer that grows like a weed without pesticides. It is also illegal, at the federal level, although Oregon recently became the seventh state to vote to legalize it at the statewide level. Barker argues that harvesting hemp locally would make sense, but in the meantime he says it is easy to import from Canada.

The potential for hemp has been there for decades — make that centuries. What has been missing in modern times (in addition to intelligent federal policy) is a team with the experience and expertise to take hemp production to the next competitive level. Barker and his partners could end up doing just that. If his plans come to fruition, they could breathe new life into the nation’s suffering pulp and textiles industries and offer a new option in the search for viable biofuels. All of which would build nicely on Oregon’s strengths in the apparel industry and in the business of going green. By Ben Jacklet. Source.

September 22, 2009 – There is no question that hemp’s illegality is a crime against humanity. The damage caused by this inane policy is unimaginable. When hemp finally becomes legal and is photo_verybig_102372utilized the way it should be, people will cry about what has been lost and curse the world governments for what they have done.

Nobody should be arrested for possessing cannabis, yet so many people are every hour. The fear that runs through someone’s heart when they are in that kind of situation should not be tolerated by anybody, yet some people believe that it is good to punish people for this. Do you believe you should be arrested, thrown in to a police car, and drained of thousands of dollars for drinking alcohol or smoking a cigarette, both of which are literally infinitely more dangerous than cannabis? If not, then why should one think that lives should be ruined for this?

It is an ironic fact that cannabis is illegal because it is said to be “dangerous”, but taken in the proper quantities, it is the complete opposite. Studies show that people who smoke moderate amounts of cannabis live longer (two years longer!) and are protected from neurological and cardiovascular diseases, to some extent. Therefore, the government making cannabis illegal is taking away YOUR right to life!

One clue to the effectiveness of cannabis is the simple fact that people derive great relief from just smoking it. Isn’t it amazing that smoking something is more effective to people than actual prescription medications? And the kicker is that cannabis reaches only a small fraction of its potential when smoked; the true power lies in extracts.

The best way to use cannabis medicinally is to extract the resins and concentrate them, forming a substance known as hemp oil. An ideal and easy extraction process was developed by a man named Rick Simpson, who also used his product on hundreds of people with amazing success, even curing many cases of terminal cancer.

As if curing cancer was not good enough, the industrial applications of hemp are incredible. Hemp can be used as an alternative fuel, a perfectly balanced staple food, and a replacement for virtually all petroleum and tree products. However, because industrial hemp is illegal in the United States, none of us can enjoy these benefits.

Because we are limited by our own perspectives, nobody will ever know just how much suffering was caused by cannabis being illegal. The damage to recreational smokers is terrible but is nothing compared to those who have suffered from diseases that could have been cured or prevented through hemp oil.

Want to know what you can do to help? The best thing is to educate yourself and others about the truth of cannabis, and write to your local lawmakers about the full truth. If all the lawmakers are informed about cannabis’ true properties, they will have no choice but to take notice! By Suzaku Kururugi. Source.

Please also see:
Cannabis Cancer Treatment Successes Being Ignored. Why?
Cannabis May Help Fight Prostate Cancer says British Journal of Cancer
If Pot Prevented Cancer You Would Have Read About it, Right?
Melissa Etheridge: Medical marijuana should be legal

September 19, 2009 – As a cheap renewable green energy, the popularity of premium wood pellets is growing all over the world. Very little ash is produced from burning the pellets. Premium wood pellets also hemp-poster-750have very low moisture content. The combination of a low ash and moisture content means premium wood pellets produce more heat and less maintenance. The heat and efficiency gained from pellet stoves and boilers can be as high as 99% efficient. And the with an ash content as low as 0.5%, the ash bin only has to be emptied every couple of days at the most. Some pellet stoves and boilers can operate for week’s even months without the need to empty the ashbin. Premium wood pellets are made from both softwood and hardwood waste and by-products from the wood industry. Most if not all bark is removed from the wood to achieve the very low ash content when burnt. Premium wood pellets are no doubt the best possible fuel pellets, however there is a potential future problem.

We need to move away from fossil fuels as with our rate of consumption, current rates of supply are not sustainable. Unlike fossil fuels we can grow softwoods and hardwoods, and so we can replenish resources. However the rate of growth for hardwoods and softwood trees used for pellet production is not sufficient to sustain current demand, and definitely not enough to sustain future demand. Premium wood pellets are made from waste from the wood industry, and there is only so much waste. So once all wood waste resources are allocated, are we going to cut down hardwood and softwood trees for premium pellet production? Hopefully not, as this is a very poor use of valuable resources.

To address this issue, different forms of biomass must be looked at for fuel pellets. This could be in the form of wood pellets made from willow and other fast growing wood species. It could include fuel pellets made from agricultural food crop waste, for example corncobs, wheat and barley straw. This way from growing food crops, you could obtain both food and fuel and the two are never in competition with each other. More foods crops would mean more food and fuel, without the competition for land for food or fuel.

Hemp is an amazing crop; it can used to produce food, clothes, plastics, oils and other resources. Again the waste from Hemp processing could be used for fuel pellets. Hemp pellets do have a huge potential, as unlike straw and grass pellets, Hemp pellets are low corrosion and low ash. Normally crops which are low ash, low corrosion take a long time to grow (softwoods/hardwoods) however Hemp is grown from seed to harvest within a 3 month period, with massive yields. Many people regard and Hemp and cannabis as one and the same, but they are different plants. Quotes have been made that you could smoke a field of hemp, and not feel any effects. Source.

September 10, 2009 – The modern day car owes much of its history to Henry Ford, who dreamed of “producing an automobile that was reasonably priced, Picture 10reliable, and efficient…” Many of Ford’s dreams have not come to fruition since Ford Motor Company was founded in 1903. It is debatable how affordable and reliable today’s autos are, and the average car’s fuel efficiency leaves much to be desired. Today’s auto industry is not what Ford envisioned, especially considering he predicted cars would be constructed of hemp and run on biofuels.

In fact, in 1941 Ford constructed a vehicle made from biodegradable cellulose fibers derived from hemp, sisal, and wheat straw. The car was even fueled by hemp ethanol. In 1925, Ford told the New York Times:

The fuel of the future is going to come from fruit like that sumach out by the road, or from apples, weeds, sawdust — almost anything. There is fuel in every bit of vegetable matter that can be fermented. There’s enough alcohol in one year’s yield of an acre of potatoes to drive the machinery necessary to cultivate the fields for a hundred years.

Photo by dok1Ford predicted cars would be made from hemp and powered by ethanol.

Ford predicted cars would be made from hemp and powered by ethanol.

Why has it taken us so long to return to Ford’s dreams? There are many factors involved, especially politics, as Bill Kovarik, Ph.D. writes in “Henry Ford, Charles Kettering and the ‘Fuel of the Future’“:

In this case, fuel technology developed in a direction that was a matter of policy choice and not predetermined by any clear advantage of one technology over another. For different reasons, Henry Ford and Charles Kettering both saw the fuel of the future as a blend of ethyl alcohol and gasoline leading to pure alcohol from cellulose. A dedicated agrarian, Ford thought new markets for fuel feedstocks would help create a rural renaissance. On the other hand, Kettering, as a scientist, was worried about the long term problem of the automotive industry’s need for oil, a resource with rapidly declining domestic reserves. Clearly, the shortage of domestic oil that was feared in the 1920s has occurred in the late 20th century, although it has hardly been noticed because of the abundance of foreign oil. Whether the oil substitute envisioned by the scientists and agrarians of the first half of the century would be appropriate in the latter half remains an open question.

Although the merits of ethanol are debatable, its share of the fuel market has grown from one to seven percent in recent years. In addition, Ford’s biomaterials team have invented seats made from hemp and soy. Almost 75 years later, Ford Motor Company may actually be moving in the direction its founding father predicted. by Jennifer Lance. Source.

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