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Hemp A Healthy Food

Cozmo

New Member
Hemp growers want the Government to overturn food standards that are preventing them from establishing a food-product industry in Canterbury.

Industrial hemp, related to the cannabis-plant species, can be grown in New Zealand for oil-seed extraction, but regulations prohibit the rest of the low-THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) plant from being developed into a food product.

The major challenge facing hemp growing was the lack of consent to sell hemp-seed foods, said the director of Midlands Seeds and managing director of Oil Seed Extractions, Andrew Davidson.

The latter company had a licence to process hemp, but could sell only hemp-seed oil, he said.

Davidson said the hurdle would have to be overcome if the industry was to develop hemp's commercial advantage in crop production and justify the investment required to develop a fibre-processing plant.

"The Government believes it will send a mixed message to the public about hemp versus marijuana, with which we strongly disagree, because Canada, the United States and Western Europe are successfully selling hemp-seed foods."

The main food product in these countries is de-oiled seed meal, which is ground into flour and used as a nutritional protein source.

Davidson said New Zealand would lose out on a host of potential biomedical benefits from growing hemp crops, such as the removal of untreated chemical residuals and the lowering of nitrogen levels.

"We can grow the raw material, but we can only sell 20 per cent (as oil). We cannot sell the other 80%, which is nutritional food, suitable for human consumption."

The food standards are regulated by the New Zealand Food Safety Authority and Food Standards Australia New Zealand.

Hemp supporters are unhappy about the voting arrangement of the Australia and New Zealand Food Regulation Ministerial Council, which determines hemp policy. The Minister of Health, Annette King, is the only New Zealander with voting rights in the policy group.

Davidson said the membership did not represent the interests of New Zealand hemp because Australia does not have the agronomic infrastructure of Canterbury to grow hemp.

Last year, the vote was 5-4 against a change to food standards.

Fibres produced from hemp are widely used overseas in fabrics and composites, but fibre production is considered a long-term prospect for New Zealand because there is no infrastructure. Hemp's profile is being promoted by the Sustainable Hemp Co-operative, which includes Midlands Seeds, Biopolymer Network, AgResearch-owned Canesis Network, Crop and Food Research, Scion, Plant Research, New Hemisphere, Oil Seed Extractions, Winslow Feeds and PPCS.

Midlands Seeds is doing evaluation trials of five new fibre cultivars and five oil-seed varieties to investigate features from sowing and harvesting to fibre quality. The trials are on a 20ha commercial hemp oil- seed crop planted at the PPCS research farm at Fairton, which will be harvested in the next three weeks.

Hemp is grown for cold pressing into hemp-seed oil by Oil Seed Extraction, a subsidiary of Midlands.

It is sold by New Hemisphere as a functional food or as a skin-care ingredient. Midlands grows about 70 per cent of New Zealand's hemp production of 50ha to 100ha.

Source: Stuff.co.nz (New Zealand)
Author: TIM CRONSHAW
Copyright: Fairfax New Zealand Limited 2007
Website: New Zealand, world, sport, business & entertainment news on Stuff.co.nz
 
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