Hemp Seed Bank is Currently under Construction in New York
When most people around the country, and possibly the world, think of New York, the first things that tends to come in mind include the Statue of Liberty, Broadway, and Wall Street. Not many people think about the state along the lines of agriculture. New York actually has a booming agricultural industry worth billions of dollars, drawn from dairy products, apples, and corn, just to mention a few of their big-ticket items. About a quarter of the landmass is devoted to farmlands and almost 200,000 jobs depend on the industry.
The sector is now gaining a new boost thanks to the recent passing of the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018, or 2018 Farm Bill, that rescheduled some cannabis products, including those derived from hemp. To further spur on this progress, Senate Minority Leader, Chuck Schumer (D-NY), just announced the creation of the only Industrial Hemp Germplasm Repository. This hemp seed bank, which has been funded by a federal grant, will be located at Cornell University's AgriTech facility located in Geneva, New York.
As highlighted by Forbes.com, the initiative kick-started in 2018 when a senate panel set aside the $500,000 fund, for purposes of stockpiling cannabis genetics. This was in recognition of the growing demand for industrial hemp. The global industrial hemp market is expected to reach $26.6B by 2026. Initially intended to be situated in Missouri, the seed bank is now expected to benefit the burgeoning industrial hemp industry of Upstate New York, according to Schumer. Before we get into how this legal change benefits the agricultural industry, we need to first understand how hemp differs from cannabis.
Both hemp and cannabis can be derived from the Cannabis Sativa plant species. Hemp, however, is a strain that possesses very low concentrations of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which is the psychoactive component, and higher concentrations of the cannabidiol (CBD). Both offer health benefits, with CBD believed to be able to nullify some of the psychoactive effects of THC. Marijuana can have THC concentrations as high as 30%, whereas hemp often possesses less than 0.3%.
The mind-altering effect of THC is part of the reason cannabis has faced such an uphill battle in becoming legalized for both medicinal and recreational use across the country. Hemp, however, has been bred to the extent where some varieties have extremely low THC concentrations and very high CBD content. The CBD component is what makes hemp such a promising crop as its ability to interact with central nervous system receptors suggests many health benefits.
From alleviating the symptoms of PMS and menopause, to reducing seizures in epilepsy sufferers, there is much research that shows the potential of CBD in treating many ailments. Consumption of certain hemp products is also believed to help improve cardiovascular health and digestion.
Hemp medicinal products come in a variety of forms to benefit different regions of the body and improve overall health including balms, oils, extracts, flour, and seeds. They can be used in human and animal foods. Besides the therapeutic benefits that may be derived from hemp, the fibers of the plant make it a valuable source material for textiles, paper, biodegradable plastics, insulation, and biofuel.
The announcement of the hemp seed bank comes hot on the heels of the opening of New York's first industrial hemp park. Expected to bring in at least 400 new jobs to Broome County, the park is being sponsored by Canopy Growth. The Canadian cannabis firm is hoping to take advantage of the existing skilled workforce, the agricultural and the manufacturing infrastructure of the region.
Another big player in the global hemp industry is Hemp, Inc. and has already begun work on developing its own strains of hemp and has had a hemp processing and manufacturing facility operational since 2017 in North Carolina. More recently, they have started renovations to their plant to accommodate the drying of hemp biomass and the curing of their hemp A and B buds. This facility will cater not just to their own production, but will also buy high-quality produce from other growers, according to the company CEO, Bruce Perlowin.
The seed bank is expected to help scientists at Cornell work on developing pest and disease resistant genes that will lead to better varieties of the plant. This is in turn expected to provide growers from across the country with access to varieties best suited to their farming conditions. Christine Smart, a professor at the School of Integrative Plant Sciences, expects that new varieties could be available from Cornell within five years.
This current push for the hemp seed bank and the multifaceted purposes, research and development the materials will be used for is without its controversy. Some opponents argue that the future uses, and modification of the seeds can lead to positive outlooks as much as the negative ones that are being presented and those that are not.
In light of avoiding conspiracy theories to fester in this article update, we will wait for further data and overall information before bringing you some of the opposing arguments presented by some, while minimized by others. Overall, we at Cannabexchange believe that this is progress for the industry as a whole. Progress that does not harm will only benefit us all in the end.