Volume 2, Issue 15, December 2000 ISSN 1488-3988
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Top of the Crop
I) Saskatchewan to enter the Ethanol Energy Economy?
Agwaste and cellulose crops are feedstocks for innovative SRC proposal
Saskatchewan is looking becoming involved in the emerging ethanol/fuel cell energy economy. Proposed research by The Saskatchewan Research Council is slated to investigate different methods of cellulose-to-ethanol production, including agwaste and dedicated fibre crops such as hemp.
The SRC's Keith Hutchence says that the new energy economy could be economically attractive to the province and contribute significantly to energy reform in an environmentally responsible manner.
"Ethanol can be produced from biomass with good energy gains, and can be produced and consumed with a small fraction if the greenhouse gas emissions of fossil fuels, if wise choices were made. (Italics added)." (Keith Hutchence, Saskatchewan and the Ethanol Energy Economy, April 1999)
According to Hutchence, mass production of ethanol on the Prairies would significantly address various scenarios of global climate change and would allow Canada to meet and exceed its international commitments. Ethanol production would also address some of Saskatchewan's long term agricultural problems, including a forecasted limited demand of agriculture products in the future i.e. if global food production continues to rise faster than global population.
The costs of production are extremely compelling. Recent advances in ethanol production suggests that the fuel could be produced efficiently and at low cost -- potentially as low as $0.20/litre CDN. Ethanol production and consumption would use a small fraction of the greenhouse gas emissions of hydrocarbon fossil fuel consumption.
As emerging fuel cell technology falls into place commercially, Saskatchewan's consumption of ethanol would likely be around two billion litres per year. Saskatchewan's potential ethanol production could range from 8.7 billion litres per year up to around 50 billion litres per year, depending on choice of biomass and amount of acreage devoted to fuel crops.
Currently, 228 million litres of ethanol are produced in Canada annually.
According to the SRC proposal, production of ethanol is anticipated to come first from cellulose wastes from agriculture, forestry and even urban trash and then from dedicated cellulosic crops in agriculture such as hemp and forestry such as hybrid poplar. While some sacrifices of marginal agricultural land would have to be made -- in the range of 9 million acres from Saskatchewan's total 70 million acres -- a developed alcohol industry could provide major economic benefits to both agriculture and forestry.
A decentralised network of plants with a production of 20 million litres each per year would be the optimum scenario. Given a yield of 400 litres per ton on input material, then 50,000 tons of straw (over 60,000 round bales) would be needed for a plant of this size. A " low end" production scenario producing 8.7 billion litres of ethanol per year province-wide and spread out over 400 plus plants would create an estimated 15 jobs per plant, or around one job per 0.75 million litres produced.
For more information, check out: www.src.sk.ca/whatsnew/ethanol.html
For more information about ethanol production in Canada, see www.greenfuels.org
Fuel cells use alcohols very efficiently. The current generation of fuel cell (i.e.: Ballard) uses fuels such as methanol and ethanol as hydrogen carriers to supply the cells with fuel hydrogen. Research is being done on fuel cells that directly consume alcohols as fuels.
Fuel cells are in the process of being commercialised. In 1998 all major automotive manufacturers exhibited prototype fuel cell cars and announced expectations of being in commercial production of fuel cell vehicles by 2002-2003.
Source: Saskatchewan Research Council, www.src.sk.ca
Do you want to learn more (about Fuel Cells?) Fuel Cells 2000 is an independent, nonprofit activity dedicated to the commercialisation of fuel cell technologies. To subscribe to their useful Fuelcells listserve, send a BLANK email to firstname.lastname@example.org
II) Three new seed varieties announced: Anka, Carmen, and Deni first North American cultivars
The Industrial Hemp Seed Development Company (IHSDC) of Chatham Ontario, has announced three new industrial hemp cultivars -- Anka, Carmen and Deni -- the first North American bred industrial hemp varieties.
All three types have been developed under conventional breeding techniques. All are registered with the Canadian Seed Grower's Association and will be available for cultivation in 2001-2002.
Anka, developed for grain production, will have the greatest demand in the short term, as it is expected to compete with the popular FIN 314 and Fasamo seeds among Canadian hemp growers. An early, shorter monoecious plant, Anka has demonstrated good adaptability to all soils and climatic conditions in research trials extending from Southern Ontario to Alberta. Anka could also be considered for dual use (fibre and grain) production in optimum conditions.
Anka develops a large, compact seed head, with short upright branches which usually cover 1/3 of the plant height. The stems are shorter, averaging 180-200cm.
According to IHSDC "Anka has an exceptional combination of desired nutritional quality of grain and upstanding yields. " The seeds contain a wide spectrum of essential amino acids and fatty acids, including high levels of gamma linolenic acid, useful in cosmetic and pharmaceutical products. According to IHSDC, Delta-9 THC levels of Anka should be less than 0.1%.
Commercial quantities of seed of Anka will be available in 2001 planting season.
Carmen and Deni have been developed with future fibre production in the US in mind.
Carmen is a semi-late, dioecious hemp plant developed for fine quality fibre production. When seeded in narrow rows, stems are almost nonbranched and develop very long internodes, some over 35 cm in length. Attaining technical maturity in 90-100 days after seeding, Carmen can reach a stem height of 300-320 cm. The cultivar can be grown in the south up to 35 degree latitude, but could be grown in any area where frost free season exceeds 120-130 days.
Small supplies of Carmen will be available for research in 2001 and will be commercially available in 2002.
Deni is a later dioecious fibre variety that also could be considered for a dual use crops. It is expected to be a very good grain or biomass producer for latitudes of 35-40 degrees N. The highest biomass is reached at 140-150 days after seeding while seed starts to mature 180-190 days after seeding. Though Deni plants are 350-400 cm tall at 42 degrees N. (southern Ontario), IHSDC expects the seed to have little significance in the Canadian market.
Deni will be commercially available in 2002.
The new strains are the first results of IHSDC's ambitious breeding program. According to the company, five more industrial hemp varieties are now in the final stages of development and will be available in the next 2-3 years. To access germplasm for its projects, the company has developed close relationships with research stations in Eastern Europe.
All varieties will be sold through Chatham, Ontario's, Kenex, Ltd.
For more information, please contact Peter Dragla, 519-351-6122, email@example.com
III) New regulations and regulatory rollbacks worry industry
New regulations and regulatory rollbacks regarding industrial hempseed on both sides of the border are worrying the industry.
The latest word from Washington is that the Drug Enforcement Administration intends to publish new regulations on industrial hemp in the Federal Register before the new Bush Administration takes over.
The new regulations will ban THC in hemp products.
According to US-based hemp lobbyists, these proposed regulations may seriously impact or actually kill products made with industrial hemp intended for human consumption.
"This set of regulations is a proposed interim rule which means that the regulations will take effect immediately once published in the Federal Registry, " says Lloyd Hart, National Co-ordinator for Votehemp.com. "(Following publication) there will be a sixty day comment period and a one hundred and twenty day period in which to sell off existing hemp products/inventory on shelves at the time of the publishing of the regulations."
Products that would be threatened by new regulations include hemp lip balm, any hemp products which could be used to soothe nose/sinus, or anything that could be "ingested" that results in THC being found in the body. The regulations will also put a potential cloud over hemp body care products, saying if the shampoo or lotion user tests positive for THC, then the products will be outlawed.
"The regulations will be devastating to the efforts to legalise industrial hemp in the USA," says State Rep. Cynthia Thielen of Hawaii.
Thielen says that new regulations should be left for the next administration to decide, and not be put forward in the last days of the Clinton administration.
Richard Rose of the HempNut Corporation disagrees: "This is not a ban on hemp foods, this is a ban only on THC in hemp foods," says Rose, "Quite simply, this is a call to the industry to clean up our act, just as the peanut industry had to do to eliminate aflatoxin, and the meat industry must do today to eliminate BSE and pathogens. "
In Canada, producers and marketers, as well as US buyers continue to be frustrated by the punitive implementation of Section 3. (1) of the Industrial Hemp Regulations by Canada Customs and Revenue Agency. Accordingly, imports of all finished products containing hemp derivatives -- such as hempseed oil, seed or essential oils -- be tested in the "country of origin". This testing requirement applies to hempseed that has already been tested in Canada, but is value-added into a finished product in the US.
Canadian and American companies are protesting the unnecessary expense of testing and believe that Health Canada's regulatory concerns can be met by other means than "double testing."
Issues regarding hemp in the North American food supply ironically invert the contemporary debate concerning food safety. The presence of GMO foods in the food supply has generated substantial public criticism but has received government sanction and promotion; in the case of hemp, there is no public outcry regarding the safety of hempseed products -- the caution is exclusive to Ottawa and Washington.
Some quick facts:
Hempseeds contain no THC, but are often coated with resin from the rest of the plant which contains THC;
Cleaning should be capable of cleaning off trace amounts of THC left on the seed; Dehullers are a widely available technology that will remove the seed coat and hence remove trace THC ;
Hemp cultivars in Canada often test below 0.1% THC in the field or lower;
THC content in hemp rises as latitude decreases;
THC content of foods and cosmetics are set at under 10 ppm in Canada and in practice are much lower;
The Leson study (2000) established that hempseed foods of Canadian origin are drug test compatible according to contemporary testing technologies.
For more information, go to: www.savehemp.org , www.hempembargo.com or www.votehemp.com
IV) Infra-red cooking technology approved by Health Canada
Infraready Products Ltd. of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan has received approval from Health Canada that it can use its infra-red cooking technology to sterilise (render non-viable) industrial hempseed.
"The work began on this project when we realise that the only officially recognised method to render nonviable was with a steam treatment for 15 minutes. With our knowledge of our process, it was apparent that we could use a better technology and produce a better product," says Mark Pickard, President.
"With assistance from Industry Research Assistance Program (IRAP) we conducted the necessary research and were able to submit the data to Health Canada. As a result infra-red is now a recognised method in the Industrial Hemp Technical Manual" says Gord Sellar, Product Development and Quality Assistance Co-ordinator.
While there are challenges ahead for industrial hemp's acceptance in a variety of markets, the fact that a new processing technology is available to the industry will be of benefit to those in pursuit of markets.
For more information contact Mark Pickard, President at 306-242-4950 or email firstname.lastname@example.org or check out www.infrareadyproducts.com
Source: Saskatchewan Nutraceutical Network, www.nutranet.org
V) PAPTAC forms nonwood pulping committee
The Pulp and Paper Technical Association of Canada (PAPTAC) has formed a nonwood pulping committee.
"The purpose of this committee is to increase the pulp and paper industry's awareness of the potential for using non-wood fibres as raw materials. " says Wade Chute of the Alberta Research Council. According to Chute, this new PAPTAC committee will work in conjunction with its counterpart in the Technical Association of the Pulp and Paper Industries (TAPPI) to share and promote the development of new nonwood processing technology, while at the same time providing a unique Canadian industry perspective.
PAPTAC is currently seeking people who wish to become members of this new "Non-Wood Fibre Committee". In order to be eligible for active membership in this committee, interested individuals must be:
The committee's first meeting will take place on January 29, 2001 in Montreal, in conjunction with the PAPTAC 87th Annual General Meeting. At this meeting, the structure of the committee will be filled out in greater detail and a committee executive selected.
For more information, contact Wade Chute, Senior Research Engineer -- Agrifibres, Alberta Research Council, email@example.com
VI) December's Celebrity Hemp Awareness Index: Margaret Atwood
Canada uber-author Margaret Atwood, winner of the Booker Prize for her novel The Blind Assassin, recently weighed in with her list of "Things needed for the future":
Atwood: "Here's a challenge to all the multi-multibillionaires of the world who control a very large proportion of the world's money. They should put out a big prize for whoever invents the following things, and this is not in order of priority. Number one: a substitute for trees and the making of paper. I propose industrial hemp "you'd have to smoke an acre of it to get high."
Also on the Atwood list :
Source: LA Weekly: Read the whole interview at http://www.laweekly.com/ink/00/52/wls-wertheim.shtml
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Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org fax at 541-345-0910 or voice at 541-345-9317. (Toll-free number is US only)
The Hemp Report's Annum Cannabis 2000:
Here's our picks for the biggest news stories of the year. This task initiated a lot of discussion on our phone lines and modem connections as we tried to strike a balance between what stories captured the most headlines and the public imagination and what we thought were significant, but underreported developments.
1) Good news: Hawaii planting industrial hemp. The island state gets the first modern DEA permit to plant a guarded garden-sized plot of industrial hemp. Good success with research plots despite predation by birds and slugs; Dr. Dave West gets a second DEA license to continue later in the year. Private industry, not government, writes the check, and phytoremediation is being looked at. When will they start looking at biomass fuels?
2) Bad news: CGP goes under. We are still dealing with this hangover as grain surpluses haven't been depleted as big seed markets haven't been delivered yet. Inroads are being made on the consumer front as public education about hemp's benefits grows, but industrial and feed markets are still under development. Still waiting for fibre markets. It could be argued that the dissolution of this international concern has played into a slowdown of new monies coming into the industry. Investment is still needed. The Morning After: Manitoba farmers and industry figures from across the country gather In Winnipeg as scheduled for a top conference (Hemp 2000) that showed a young industry that was still optimistic, and not going to fall on their swords.
3) Big industry moving towards hemp. DaimlerChrysler, Johnson Controls, and Lear are all moving towards using natural fibres, including hemp, in biocomposite materials for automobiles. Automakers worldwide continue their drive to make cars recyclable and more environmentally friendly. Kline and Co. study estimates that North American demand for natural fibres in plastic composites is at 100 million lbs. -- and if wood supplies continued to be stressed -- this figure will be higher. Fuel cell technology and environmental and market concerns about fossil fuels will see ethanol being tapped as an energy source in a few years. Can hemp capture a piece of this? Also: Domtar does Weeds: the first hemp blend paper from a major Canadian Pulp & Paper supplier. Look to them to start using Canadian hemp in future runs. But will they stick around and develop a market if revenues are not as high as expected?
4) Ralph Nader runs for President and stumps often on industrial hemp. Rewarded with 2.5% of the popular vote, and the privilege of scaring liberal columnists at the Village Voice. Nader also has the dignity to realize when an election is actually over, so extra points to him. Third party platforms are often coopted by mainstream parties, so look to more awareness and legislation action on hemp in the future. Also kudos to VoteHemp.com for starting a long overdue hemp lobby on the national level. And keep an eye on the many States who all want to follow Hawaii's lead and start doing their own research.
5) McCaffrey stalled. America's Drug Czar didn't get his heavy handed way with industrial hemp in 2000 and with his term up post-Clinton, is retiring to write books and maybe teach. The hemp issue is being left in the hands of the DEA. As of webtime, it is unknown who Bush II will appoint to the critical post of Office of National Drug Control Policy. However, threatened regulations forbidding human use of hempseed appear to be on their way; so we may be speaking too soon. Eliminating and/or minimising THC in hemp foods so as not to jeopardise urine analysis is the way to go --- most of us believe we are already there, and it's just a communication problem.
6) Lakota Sioux grow hemp -- a statement of native sovereignty and a chance to engage the DEA on continental soil. For now, federal law is supreme to tribal law but a lot of sympathetic press was generated on and offline and this story will continue. Canadian hemp supplied by the Kentucky Hemp Growers is now being trucked to South Dakota so that work with hemp concrete can continue.
7) See #5 above. One reason why McCaffrey didn't get his way: effective Canadian diplomacy in the historic Canadian tradition of persistent and principled negotiation with the Yanks. Canada does support industrial hemp and we saw her fight for us. Makes us taxpayers proud. Hemp wants truly free trade and it's important in this post-Seattle world that small businesses and communities, and not just the transnationals (see #3), have an equality of opportunity as well.
8) Hempseed Products. Hemp Report staff are tickled by the great food we have been eating all year, giving us the needed energy to keep publishing and working hard. Growing food market competition between companies should drive sales higher. Certified organic hemp is setting the standard, as food industry reacts to consumer pull. Look for more organic acreage to be seeded in 2001 as some are forecasting a shortage of organic grain until 2001 harvest. Also: Hemp-based alcohols and beers are enjoying some form of global birth. Trend or fad? Hemp Essential Oils probably the best new product in North America, following Swiss lead of a decade ago. Hemp hats off to Mapleridge Farms and Gen-X Research for envisioning and then creating this product under license. Good luck.
9) We are getting organised. Continuing support of hemp by many Canadian provinces in the forms of grants or expertise -- Manitoba is still standing by hemp despite growing pains of CGP experience -- Ontario Hemp Alliance gets formed and captures funding to launch a multi-levelled program of education, information and promotion. Once we get our houses in order, some form of national association is needed to work on issues of common ground, including standards, clinical research and national marketing (first draft: have you had your hemp today?)
10) The Reality Report. USDA releases a report on hemp, with a fairly accurate reading of the current state of affairs and markets (small and thin), but with a determined cynicism marring their forecasts. Too bad. There is still a tremendous amount of interest -- and intrigue -- on the business side in regards to hemp fibre and hemp foods, but much like CGP, not all interested parties will raise the capital they need to execute their dreams, but some will. And they are all welcome to join the party.
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