Monday, February 13, 2017

Hemp opportunities too good to pass up


Tasmania’s reputation for growing some of the best and most consistent crops in the world is well known.
We have a wealth of knowledge in our rural community, and over recent decades they have shown themselves to be adaptive with crops such as poppies and pyrethrum becoming regulars in the rotation.
These type of crops have helped to sustain farming operations when they have been facing hard times from other commodity crops and the fluctuations in price and fickleness of the weather.
Which is why it is frustrating for some that they have been denied to do the same with industrial hemp.
The strong turnout at a field day this week at the Forthside research station showed just how great the interest is in the crop.
The research day heard from Queensland based expert Phil Warner that a real window of opportunity exists.
But he said the current regulation in Australia dated back to a time “when we thought the world was flat”.
He has been working since 1999 to see hemp seeds given approval for use as food, and says it is purely a political issue, not a food safety one.
Mr Warner says the use of cannabinoids for medicinal purposes was the most misunderstood, misinformed issue in Australia.
Importantly, Deputy Premier and primary industries minister Jeremy Rockliff was at this week’s event, and seems to have a good grasp of the situation.
Mr Rockliff said it was time that governments got out of the way and stopped creating red tape to allow the building of an industrial hemp industry.
He has been a supporter of the industry for many years.
And the issue lies with the Commonwealth as the ultimate arbiters of the rules around food safety.
“I think we will win that battle but it has been a long time coming,” he said.
Rarely for Tasmania, the three major political parties in Tasmania all support the removal of regulations around growing hemp in the state.
If the legislation and regulation around hemp can be settled, the sky is really the limit.
As researcher Dr Mark Boersma says, there aren’t too many crops you can eat, drink, build with, make clothes and generate electricity from.
It’s high time for action on hemp.

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