Environment


November 17, 2009 – Investing adequately in agriculture can lead to permanent structural transformation and hunger alleviation in Africa. Not only is the food system a major employer of the poor, but it also generates the capital and demand for expansion in non-agricultural sectors.

Consider the large scale growing of Hemp. The US Hemp food sales are experiencing an annual growth rate of 50% according to the US industry research group SPINS. China whose trade GDP quadrupled in 20 years exports Hemp that is grown on its 800,000 acres. Think of how much more Africa could grow.

Hemp is a crop that is multi-beneficial, and a strong step to creating productive, healthy and even prosperous conditions in Africa. Hemp has up to 25 000 potential uses. It is a high plant protein source and can be pressed into nutritious oil essential for our immune system and clearing the arteries of cholesterol and plaque.The oil from hemp seed can be sprouted (Malted) or ground and baked into cake, bread, and casseroles.

Hemp is an environmentally sustainable, economically viable “ancient wonder crop”. Farmers around the world grow it without the use of pesticides or herbicides. Hemp is earth’s number-one biomass resource. Biomass can be converted to methane, methanol, or Gasoline at a cost comparable to petroleum. It can produce 10 times more methanol than corn. The use of hemp fuel does not contribute to global Warming.

One acre of hemp can produce as much usable fiber as four acres of trees or two acres of cotton. Trees may take several years to grow, while hemp can be cultivated in as little as 100 Days and can yield much more paper than tree.

Until 1883, from 75-90% of all paper in the world was made with cannabis hemp fiber. Hemp paper is longer lasting than wood pulp, stronger, acid-free, and chlorine free.

Hemp can as well be a textile solution for Africa as it is softer, warmer, more absorbent and has three times the tensile strength. About 70-90% of all rope, twine, and Cordage was made from hemp until 1937. Hemp withstands heat, mildew, insects, and is not damaged by light. Oil paintings on Hemp and/or flax canvas have stayed in fine condition. Hemp fiber has strong, rot resistant carpeting potential eliminating the allergic reactions associated with new synthetic carpeting.

An acre of full Grown hemp plants can sustainably provide from four to 50 or even 100 times the cellulose found in cornstalks, or sugar cane (the planet’s next highest annual cellulose plants). One acre of hemp produces as much cellulose fiber pulp as 4.1 acres of trees, making hemp a perfect material to replace trees, for pressed board, particle board, and concrete construction molds.

Heating and compressing plant fibers can create practical, inexpensive, fire-resistant construction materials with excellent thermal and sound insulating Qualities. These strong plant fiber materials could replace dry wall and wood paneling.

William B. Coned of Condi’s Redwood Lumber,Inc., in conjunction with Washington State University (1991-1993) demonstrated the superior strength, flexibility, and economy of hemp composite. Archeologists have found a bridge in the South of France from the Merovingian period (500-751 A.D.) built with this process.

Hemp is a wonder plant that Africa should consider growing as a strategy to create wealth for the continent.

Please also see:
Can Hemp Products Save the World?
Canada – Hemp Bringing Highs to Farmers’ Lows

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November 6, 2009 – The symptoms and side effects of reefer madness are now clearer than ever.IB_MPCP_Hemp_Slaski_590_0

Politicians, even those who never inhaled, suffer paranoid delusions. Over the past century, Canada’s ludicrous and draconian marijuana policies wasted billions in criminal-justice resources.

Crime gangs got rich and recreational marijuana users–about as dangerous as contented cats–were fined and jailed by the thousands.

But that’s only half of it. What we now know is that the government’s marijuana paranoia cost this country a cash crop of boundless potential.

I don’t mean marijuana, though some of us wish pot was grown and taxed by government so the windfall could enrich society instead of gangsters.

I refer instead to hemp, a benign super-plant and casualty of Canada’s war on drugs.

Fortunately, hemp is finally making a comeback, in part because of the work of the Alberta Research Council.

ARC plant physiologist Jan Slaski is as keen on hemp as he is tired of reefer jokes.

Slaski isn’t laughing, he says, because the jokes only perpetuate a bad myth.

Hemp, or industrial hemp as Slaski calls it, is not marijuana. Two different plants.

Slaski says the hardy hemp plant has been cultivated for more than 8,000 years. Its plant fibres were used in everything from clothes to shoes to rope. Its seed oil is rich in health Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids.

When Ukrainian settlers came to Canada, they brought hemp seeds. One record in the archives talked about pioneers using hemp to create a soothing tea.

But while industrial hemp has some of the psycho-active THC found in marijuana, the amounts are far less intoxicating than all-ages, de-alcoholized beer.

Slaski says THC concentrations in hemp are a fraction–one per cent or less–of that in marijuana. You’d die of smoke inhalation trying to get high.

Still, one of the research council’s aims is to breed a hemp plant with no detectable THC. Why? Because of marijuana paranoia.

In 1998, 60 years after the feds prohibited the growing of hemp as part of its war on drugs, controlled plots were again allowed.

Modern hemp growers had to jump through high hoops, including a criminal record check and detailed license application to Health Canada.

The lingering hemp hysteria is summed up nicely by one of Health Canada’s rules: No hemp can be grown within one kilometre of a school.

So why is the research council working so hard to redeem hemp? Well, because of its potential to not only give Alberta farmers an economic edge, but also help save the environment.

Hemp literally grows like a weed. It can reach or exceed three metres in height during our short growing season.

It produces biomass–usable plant material–like nothing else.

Researchers have yet to identify a pest threat to hemp. It’s early season vigour allows it to out-compete weeds. So unlike cereal crops, hemp is organic, requiring no pesticide applications.

“It truly is a super crop,” Slaski says.

Forget hemp’s healthy food-oil potential for a moment. That may come if people can get over the fear of taking a trip on hemp-fried foods.

But the fibre from hemp could be used in everything from pulp-and-paper to textiles. Alberta is only one of many jurisdictions in the world that clear-cuts forests for pulp.

Forest companies must travel further and further from the pulp mill to retrieve feed stock, which then takes at least 60 years to regrow.

Put enough hemp in production and you’d get an annual, renewable fibre supply for paper production.

Hemp could also replace cotton, which requires large applications of pesticides. Hemp could also replace glass fibre, which is used in the making of composite materials, like plastics for the automotive industry.

Glass fibre requires high heat and energy in its industrial production. Hemp? Rain and sun. Glass fibres aren’t biodegradable like hemp. Hemp fibres are lighter. Lighter cars require less fuel.

The use of hemp in composite plastics is being studied in earnest by the ARC. Slaski has talked to automakers who say they’ll sign contracts if hemp composites meet strict requirements. And if production levels can be guaranteed.

The first requirement is being met ARC labs. But we’re a long way from widespread hemp farming, largely because of its undeserved reputation.

But then again, marijuana also has an undeserved reputation. It’s obvious to anyone who looks objectively at the facts that marijuana causes less harm than alcohol, both to the individual and society.

Is marijuana safe? Any psychoactive substance can be abused. But marijuana doesn’t kill brain cells or inspire violence like alcohol does.

So when you consider how this society promotes and celebrates the use of a more dangerous drug, alcohol, our marijuana policies appear silly.

But even sillier is that industrial hemp got caught up in the madness.

In case you’re wondering, the answer is no. I don’t smoke pot. I tried it as a teenager but I found it made me paranoid. By Scott McKeen. Source.

October 25th, 2009 – The hemp plant can be used in thousands of different products, including large-scale things such as houses and cars. Hemp is also able to be made into smaller goods asglobalwarmingwell, from health products to paints.

An extremely important goal that hemp must be applied to immediately is the reversal of global warming. Upon first hearing such a statement, it may seem ridiculous that one thing could solve a world problem. However, utilizing hemp on a massive scale could indeed achieve this objective.

To understand how hemp can stop global warming, you need to understand how climate change is occurring. Greenhouse gases, primarily carbon dioxide, build up in the atmosphere. This high concentration of gas traps heat inside the Earth, leading to a general increase in temperature.

The negative effects of the advanced stages of global warming would be devastating and destructive. We cannot afford to wait; we must act now to counter these horrible consequences.

When you are young, you learn that for plants to grow, they must photosynthesize. This involves taking CO2 from the air and converting it to oxygen. The nature of the hemp plant enables it to absorb incredible amounts of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, much more than all other plants.

Hemp can not only absorb carbon dioxide, but it puts much of it into the soil. This not only permanently removes it from the atmosphere, but it enhances the soil. Few other plants actually leave the soil healthier after they have grown, rather than depleting it.

Not only is hemp effective at reversing global warming through its growth, but the processing of it into products is “green” as well. Hemp is especially efficient when it comes to paper. Essentially no chemicals are required, unlike the many toxic ones that are necessary for tree paper.

It is stunning to realize how amazing hemp is, yet it is still illegal. Is the human race really trying to kill itself? That is what it appears, being we have a truly miraculous resource almost literally right at our feet, and instead of embracing it, we destroy it. What kind of policy is that?

MURRAY, KY (wkms) – Not so many years ago in the United States, the hemp plant was 3221039widely grown for its fiber and seed. But hemp has fallen out of favor in the United States, partly due to its close relation to marijuana. Cultivating either is illegal, although that may change. Kentucky, once one of the leading hemp producers in the nations, is looking to revive the industry.

Shirts, bags, jewelry, and twine are among the hemp merchandise that Murray retail store owner Valerie Hancock sells. “I don’t pick things because they’re hemp, but I know that I have customers that come in who look specifically for hemp items or items that do contain hemp.”

Hancock says the hemp for her products is cultivated and refined overseas, in countries like Turkey and Tibet. However, legislation headed for the 2010 Kentucky General Assembly would allow Hancock to buy her hemp from regional farmers. Senator Joey Pendleton of Hopkinsville is sponsoring a measure to legalize industrial hemp. Pendleton has backed the bill before, but he says this time is different.

“Now that the federal government is saying we’re going to give it back to the states; if they want to legalize it and be able to grow it, that’s up to them.’ And that’s why I got excited about it, and I think honestly that’s the reason you’re seeing this thing’s catching on now.”

Pendleton expects the Obama administration to formally announce in November or December that it will not interfere with a state’s desire to legalize hemp. Pendleton believes Kentucky would greatly benefit from hemp production. Advocates for the plant point to its many uses over 25,000 to date according to information from to the North American Industrial Hemp Council. Those uses include cosmetics, car door panels, sun tan lotion and pressboard. As the Commonwealth focuses on a renewable energy plan, Pendleton says he’s become interested in hemp’s use as a bio-fuel.

“You make more bio-diesel or ethanol from an acre of hemp than you can from an acre of corn.”

In the past, Pendleton says he’s heard outcry from law enforcement at the proposition of legalizing hemp, but not so this time.

“But I think they’re understanding more. Now the industrial hemp doesn’t have the THC that the smoking kind has.”

Hemp leaves contain less than one percent of the psychoactive chemical tetrahydrocannabinol, while marijuana leaves contain three to twenty percent THC. But not so fast, says Kentucky State Police spokesman Trooper John Hawkins. He says the KSP still very much opposes industrial hemp. Hawkins says it and marijuana are the same species, cannabis sativa.

“It’s very difficult for us to determine by sight which one is hemp and which one is marijuana. So from an eradication standpoint it would make our job much more difficult.”

Also Hawkins says the results of cross pollination between hemp and marijuana aren’t known.

“You may get a lower THC content in marijuana, but you also may get a higher content with the hemp plant.”

Senator Pendleton says this wouldn’t be an issue because illegal drug growers wouldn’t want to take the risk of diluting their crop. According to hemp farmers, their plant is usually harvested before the buds that contain THC develop. Farmers also plant hemp close together, further distinguishing it from marijuana, where plots are spread out.

Even though the organization opposes industrial hemp, Hawkins says the KSP won’t move to block the measure.

“We just don’t do that. If the legislature requests information from the state police, we’ll provide that.”

Pendleton believes Kentucky stands poised on the frontlines of hemp production, with a growing season twice as long as Canada’s, the state’s potential rival to the north. They’ve been cultivating hemp for over a decade. Other states too, including North Dakota and Maine, are working toward their own hemp infrastructures. In Kentucky, Pendleton says the hemp issue is win-win.

“I think with the way the economy is now, the agriculture community is looking for another crop. We’re looking at biomass as to have an alternative there to corn. And then people are looking at number of people that’s laid off; this will create jobs to get factories to come here to make things out of the product.”

The 2010 General Assembly is still months ahead and there’s no way to know for sure what greeting the hemp bill will receive in the legislature. But if Pendleton and his supporters are correct, this could be one seed that doesn’t die on the Senate floor. By Angela Hatton. Source.

October 11, 2009 – York University in Toronto is conferring an honorary doctorate on actor Woody Harrelson for his work on environmental issues. Picture 3

Harrelson, now appearing in the movie Zombieland and coming up in the Canadian film Defendor, will get the accolade during convocation ceremonies Oct. 17, the university said in a news release.

The 48-year-old actor, who was nominated for an Oscar for The People v. Larry Flynt and was a series regular on Cheers, has also made a name for himself by promoting sustainability issues.

“Mr. Harrelson’s understanding of why we each need to reduce our ecological footprint is authentic, and his efforts to inspire others to grasp and act on this concept provide an object lesson for those of us who teach,” said Prof. Dawn Bazely, director of the Institute for Research and Innovation in Sustainability at York.

Harrelson lives a simple lifestyle in Hawaii with his wife, Laura Louie, and three daughters in a mostly self-sufficient community. The couple also run an organic food delivery company.

Most notably, he embarked on a bicycle tour, accompanied by a bio-fuelled bus, of the Pacific Coast Highway in 2001 to promote organic living.

Harrelson — a proponent of marijuana use, hemp products and yoga — lectured at college campuses along the way.

The tour was the subject of the Genie-nominated documentary Go Further, directed by acclaimed Canadian filmmaker Ron Mann.

Harrelson and his wife also set up the Voice Yourself website, a virtual one-stop shop for youth, small businesses, educational institutions and non-government organizations to promote their environmental programs. Source.

October 3, 2009 – by Hana Haatainen Caye – Do you know what happens when you smoke hemp? Not a whole lot. You may end up with a cough or a headache, but you certainly won’t end up with a high. Surprised? Most people are hempbecause they mistakenly think hemp is the same thing as marijuana. It’s not; even though they are both members of the plant species cannabis sativa and bear an uncanny resemblance. Actually, the psychoactive properties in marijuana come from the THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) found in the flower of the plant. While the THC values in marijuana are about 15% – 20%, they’re only standardized at about 0.3% in industrial hemp.

So what’s all the hype with hemp? It’s actually an eco-friendly renewable resource that is once again warranting attention in the United States (although it’s not legal to commercially grow here). Hemp is an excellent alternative to cotton when it comes to clothing, as hemp is more resilient and water-resistant, offers better breathe-ability, and is, quite simply, softer and warmer. With the look of linen and the feel of flannel, it’s no wonder clothing made of hemp is gaining in popularity.

But clothing isn’t the only thing hemp is used for. Consider these facts:

* When used for building material, hemp is known to be better than wood in terms of quality and strength, as well as being less expensive
* Paper made from hemp can be recycled up to 7 times, versus only 4 times for paper made from wood pulp
* Hemp has 10 times less toxicity than salt and is as biodegradable as sugar
* When used to make bio-diesel fuel, it emits 80% less carbon dioxide and close to 100% less sulfur dioxide
* It boasts a production rate of up to 10 tons per acre every 4 months
* It matures in about 100 days versus the 50 – 100 years for a tree to mature
* Hemp crops are heat, cold, mildew, pest, light, drought and rot resistant
* There are far less chemicals used to produce fabric made of hemp than of cotton and other fibers
* The woody stalks, or hurds, of the hemp plant are used for a variety of products, including: paper, plastics, animal bedding and more efficient and cleaner burning fuels, such as ethanol and methane
* The plant fibers are perfect for clothing, canvas, paper, textiles and rope, as well as replacements for heavier toxic fibers and building materials generally made with recycled plastic and fiber

One of the most beneficial parts of the hemp plant comes from the seed which contains many nutrients for both human and animal consumption. The hemp seed consists of

* Calcium
* Magnesium
* Phosphorus
* Potassium
* Vitamin A
* Protein (25%)
* Insoluble fiber (15%)
* Carbohydrates (30%)

It also is the absolute best vegetable source of essential fatty acids, with 55% Omega 3 linoleic acid and 25% Omega 6 linoleic acid, as well as gama linoleic acid.

Hemp seeds can be used in baking or cooking, crushed or whole. Hempseed oil is the principle product derived from the seed and has many uses from nutrition to cosmetics to paints and varnishes.

The multiple uses of the hemp plant, coupled with its eco-friendly properties, makes it the perfect crop choice for farmers across America. So why are we not seeing this invaluable plant being harvested from coast to coast?

Well, not to sound cynical, but you’d have to ask a politician about this. After all, it’s the powers-that-be that enforce the law that makes industrial hemp production in the U.S. illegal. But it wasn’t always this way.

Up until 1883, nearly 90% of all paper in this country was made with hemp rather than wood pulp. Four million pounds of hemp seed was sold in the States in 1937, and up until that year, almost 90% of all rope and twine was manufactured from the hemp plant. Then there’s the car Henry Ford built in 1941, made from a hemp and wheat straw plastic. However, the popularity of hemp and its abundance seemed to be cutting into the potential profits of men like William Randolph Hearst and Pierre DuPont, who collaborated and succeeded in making hemp an illegal crop in the U.S. in 1937. What did they have to gain? Well, Hearst held interests in multiple lumber mills and personally owned huge forests. DuPont used petroleum to manufacture synthetic fuels and fibers, such as rayon, nylon and a variety of plastics. The versatility of hemp wasn’t welcome in their world.

Seventy-plus years later, what have we learned? Well, we’ve experienced an energy crisis, polluted our air and waterways, found that chemicals in synthetics can be a danger to our health, endangered our wildlife species with the destruction of the forests, created holes in our ozone layer, etc., etc.

Could this have been avoided? Possibly. Researchers estimate the if just 6% of the continental United States would be planted with hemp crops, this would provide for ALL our national energy needs. Is this factual? I don’t know. But it certainly should be worth investigating. So why is our government sitting on its hands on this one? Is it that there are too many Hearsts and DuPonts out there blocking the way for real change?

I don’t know about you, but this makes me angry. When I think about the possibility that we could have fuel with far less toxic emissions, affordable clothing that wouldn’t be chemically treated, healthy alternative sources of essential fatty acids, etc. I just want to schedule a meeting with the higher ups and ask them why it isn’t happening. They talk the talk of independence from foreign oil, but when given a sensible alternative, they turn a deaf ear. Angry…you bet I am. And frustrated with the stupidity and ignorance of people who continue to think it should be illegal, because they refuse to differentiate between hemp and marijuana. Source.

September 29, 2009 – “Standing Silent Nation” won the award for best Native documentary at the Cherokee Film Festival. The films shows a Lakota family’s attempt to grow industrial hemp as a viable economic development project on the Pine Ridge Indian reservation in South Dakota only to have it repeatedly destroyed by federal officials because of laws applying to marijuana production.

What does a family have to endure to create a future for itself? “Standing Silent Nation,”, features Alex White Plume and his Lakota family, who planted industrial hemp on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota after other crops had failed. They put their hopes for a sustainable economy in hemp’s hardiness and a booming worldwide demand for its many products, from clothing to food. Although growing hemp, a relative of marijuana, was banned in the U.S., Alex believed that tribal sovereignty, along with hemp’s non-psychoactive properties, would protect him. But when federal agents raided the White Plumes’ fields, the Lakota Nation was swept into a Byzantine struggle over tribal sovereignty, economic rights and common sense.

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