Hemp is the miracle plant of our time, breathing in 4x the carbon dioxide (CO2) of trees during it’s quick 12-14 week growing cycle. Trees take 20 years to mature vs 4 months for Industrial Hemp! Our forests are being cut down 3x faster than they can grow! One acre of hemp produces as much cellulose fibre pulp as 4.1 acres of trees!!
I might just point out this is not marijuana.
Industrial hemp, although from the same family as marijuana is a different strain containing less than 0.3 per cent THC (tetrahydrocannabinol, the active ingredient in cannabis sativa) whereas marijuana has 5-20 per cent THC. If an industrial hemp crop is grown near a marijuana plant the cross pollination will result in the dramatic reduction of marijuana THC — not the reverse. Illegal marijuana growers, therefore, will never have their plants growing anywhere near its industrial cousin — and if someone tried to smoke it, they would get violently ill!
A complete house can be built with industrial hemp, as it can be made into any building material — including fiberboard, roofing, flooring, wallboard, caulking, cement, paint, paneling, particleboard, plaster, plywood, reinforced concrete, insulation, insulation panels, spray on insulation, concrete pipes, bricks, and biodegradable plastic composites which are tougher than steel. The hardened material is resistant to rotting, rodents, insects and fire. It is many times lighter than cement and provides both thermal and sound insulation.
Hemp-foundation homes are ecologically appropriate because they are inexpensive and can be prepared on site using only a cement mixer because the material is cheap and abundant.
Hemp building material could allow us to replace the need for wood, bricks, and fiberglass insulation. The market potential for hemp in building materials for home and industry is gigantic.
Once hemp can be grown on a large, economically competitive, scale, manufacturers will see that it outperforms other natural fibres due to its length and strength.
Building and construction materials are sourced from the hemp plant’s tough fibres. These include the bast fibres (or “bark”), composed of 53-74 per cent cellulose and also the interior “hurd”.
Currently, there are two primary uses of Hemp in building and construction that have advanced to the point of commercial availability and economic feasibility. These are the development and utilisation of hemp fibres as composite fibre products like medium density fibreboard (MDF), and other cellulosic composites, and products made from hemp hurds mixed with lime.
Hemp mixed with lime has been used as a building material in France since the time of Charlemagne, (500 to 751 AD) but has only recently been rediscovered. Now, it’s being used to make floors, walls, bricks and insulation panels.
Hemp’s many qualities offers great benefits for domestic housing needs:
- Excellent acoustic insulation
- Breathes, prevents condensation
- Self-draining and waterproof
- Non-flammable (no toxic combustion products)
- Resistant to rodents, termites, insects, fungi & bacteria (because of silica content)
- Easy to use, flexible and crack-resistant.
- Ideal for cyclone and earthquake prone areas due to strength/weight ratio
- light (appreciated in floor renovations)
- Able to use fewer finishing touches (no plaster, painting or wallpaper required).
- Concrete pipes can be made out of hemp fibre (hempcrete) that costs 1/3 that of polypropylene. These pipes have greater flexibility, greater elasticity, and are resistant to cracking.
Hemp can also be made into compressed door panel and dashboards. Carmakers, such as Ford, GM, Chrysler, Saturn, BMW, and Mercedes, are currently using hemp composite for door panels, trunks, head liners and other uses.
Pine-hemp mixes have already been produced in Victorian laboratories to make medium density fibreboard and many fibre crops produce valuable oil seed co-products that can provide further employment for embattled regional workers. Hemp fibreboard is three times stronger than normal fibreboard.
Some by-products of industrial hemp and other fibres – such as hempcrete, hemp ethanol, paper, fabric, oil, rope, fabric, soap, hemp grain foods, a product similar to and as strong as fibreglass and a myriad of other industries – will require the establishment of new factories. Paper can be processed by existing paper mills. Disused factories in rural towns/regional cities can be reopened with Government support to process new products, creating further employment in rural areas.
Importantly, industrial hemp does not need fertilisers — thereby explaining the aggressive and threatening multi-billion dollar opposition to the product from Monsanto, DuPont and other petrochemical companies throughout the world.
A focus on natural fibre is vastly preferable to the current trend for using petrochemical based synthetic fibres, produced and controlled by overseas-based multinational corporations.
Politicians in Australia are either bullied by, or subservient to, these powerful companies — otherwise, why wouldn’t industrial hemp (and other natural fibres) be at the top of a drive to create a 21st century clean, green, manufacturing industry around this amazing ancient product.
Even The Greens refuse to promote this industry. I put that down to Howard’s (and now Abbott’s) demonisation of The Greens and linking promotion of an industrial hemp industry to The Greens policy of legalising marijuana. That said, I would hope that The Greens would be strong enough to withstand such a deceitful argument. So far they haven’t been, or at least I haven’t seen any evidence they have.
Australia is the only country in the western world that has not approved hemp grain food for human consumption; it can only be used here for animal consumption, even though it is the highest form of plant protein on the planet. This company above is trying to change that, please support their cause!
In Canada, hemp grain food products are a multibillion dollar business, providing products such as hemp protein powder, flour, toasted grain nuts for breakfast cereal and milk that is far more nutritious than soy. The approval of hemp grain food for human consumption in Australia is currently with FSANZ (Food Standards Australia/New Zealand). However, its approval went to FSANZ in 2006, but was vetoed by Howard himself at the only meeting of FSANZ Howard ever went to.
Why? Because Australia’s official argument against hemp grain food is that it will undermine the national cannabis strategy, implemented by the Howard government in 2006, by sending mixed messages about the safety and use of cannabis and that police wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between the low and high THC seed varieties.
If people can’t be taught – and police trained – to understand the difference, then something is seriously wrong with our education – and police training – programs.
This argument was again recently used against the current approval application. Australia is totally alone in this argument.
Although in Australia we do manufacture and sell hemp oil, hemp seeds and hemp protein for external use only (cosmetic ingredients) – and for export only and I should also point out this product is not for human consumption!
Native forests take many decades to mature and have value in the understorey and the animals and microbial life-forms contained within them, and they attract tourists, bushwalkers, field naturalists, biologists and a wide variety of others because of their diversity — they should be preserved.
Hemp fibre crops take only 90 days to reach maturity, and produce 4 times the yield of timber plantations over a 20 year period. By comparison, pine plantations used for sawlogs take a minimum of 15 to 20 years to produce very small saw logs. (For wood chips, plantations are often cut down earlier.)
And during the life of a timber plantation, very few jobs are created while the trees are growing. Even when plantations are sown and harvested, there is very little local and regional employment created, as contractors from out of town are frequently the ones used.
To provide the right conditions for new jobs and investment across Australia, alternate fibre industries should be encouraged and nurtured until these industries reach a critical mass on their own, or can combine with industries already well established — such as the processing of timber fibres and fabric manufacturing.
A whole-of-government approach is needed as this is a project that crosses several departments, including Innovation, Industry, Regional Development, Manufacturing, Environment, Agriculture, Education & Training.
At a micro-economic level, here is some background on flax and hemp fibre industries.
In 1896, fifty seven acres of flax and hemp were grown in the Buckland Valley near Myrtleford Victoria. A pre-processing mill was established in Myrtleford in what is now called Merriang Road (formerly Flax Mill Road). The fibre was then transported more than 400km from Myrtleford to Colac to make ropes. In the 1960s, the industry was discontinued when transport subsidies were removed and synthetic ropes became cheaper.
In 2012, with improvements in technology, the industry is once again viable. My colleague, Adrian Clarke from Victoria has built Australia’s first prototype processing machine for industrial hemp with a turnaround of 24 hours. Currently, it sits in a shed rusting, waiting for a Government of any persuasion to provide seed funding to further advance this industry.
Imagine the myriad of amazing clean, green manufacturing industries around Australia if only our Government would show some strong, powerful leadership on this issue. Yea right!
A little history on HEMP –
1807: Napoleon signs Treaty with Russia to cut off all legal Russian Hemp trade with Britain. but the Czar refuses to enforce the treaty and turns a blind eye to Britain’s illegal Hemp trade.
June 24th, 1812 Napoleon invades Russia to try and put an end to Britain’s main supply of Russian Hemp but by the end of the year the Russian winter had decimated most of Napoleon’s forces. Did you know that the Royal Navy relied on Russian Hemp to stay afloat during their war with the U.S.? (the War of 1812)
Henry Ford helped American farmers by using cellulose grown on the land, such as southern slash pine fibre, straw, ramie and HEMP. This plastic car comprised 70% cellulose with 30% resin binder. On his large estate, Ford was photographed among his hemp fields. The car, ‘grown from the soil’ had an impact strength 10 times stronger than steel at 2/3 rd’s the weight for better economy (Popular Mechanics, 1941) Alcohol prohibition prevented Mr. Ford from powering his fleet with “plant-power”.
Why is it still illegal to grow hemp in the United States of America when many other industrialized nations have embraced the many economic uses & benefits of industrial, non-cannabis hemp? It’s only a matter of time before hemp becomes a mainstay of our economy & helps to clean up our environment, as it will in this country, if we can get through the layers of Government and political agendas.
* Hemp sails & rope carried Columbus to the Americas in 1492. Columbus boat carried hemp seed for use in case of shipwreck to grow crops for raw materials & as a source of nutrition.
* George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and other founding fathers GREW HEMP; (Washington and Jefferson Diaries). Jefferson smuggled hemp seeds from China to France then to America. Hemp was in such demand in the colonies that taxes could be paid in hemp & fines were levied against farmers who did not grow hemp!
* Benjamin Franklin owned one of the first paper mills in America and it processed hemp. Also, the War of 1812 was fought over hemp. Napoleon wanted to cut off Moscow’s export to England (Emperor Wears No Clothes, Jack Herer).
* For thousands of years, 90% of all ships’ sails and rope were made from hemp. The word ‘canvas’ is Dutch for cannabis; (Webster’s New World Dictionary).
* 80% of all textiles, fabrics, clothes, linen, drapes, bed sheets, etc. were made from hemp until the 1820s with the introduction of the cotton gin.
* Until 1883 more than 3/4 of the world’s paper was made from hemp fiber. Hemp crops produce nearly 4 times as much raw fiber than equivalent tree plantations! Hemp paper is finer, stronger & lasts longer than wood-based papers. Bank notes & archival papers are made from hemp paper.
* The first Bibles, maps, charts, Betsy Ross’s flag, the first drafts of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution were made from hemp (U.S. Government Archives).
* The first crop grown in many states was hemp. 1850 was a peak year for Kentucky producing 40,000 tons. Hemp was the largest cash crop until the 20th Century; (State Archives).
* Oldest known records of hemp farming go back 5000 years in China. For more than 1000 years before the time of Christ until 1883 AD Cannabis Sativa was our planet’s most important industry for thousands of products & enterprises producing the overall majority of the earth’s fiber, fabric, lighting oil, incense, fiberglass replacement, lightweight sandwich boards, composite woods, kitty litter, potting mix, nappies, feminine care products, fuel, medicines & paper, as well as a primary source of protein for humans & animals.
* Rembrandts, Gainsboroughs, Van Goghs as well as most early canvas paintings were principally painted on hemp linen.
* In 1916, the U.S. Government predicted that by the 1940s all paper would come from hemp and that no more trees need to be cut down. Government studies report that 1 acre of hemp equals 4.1 acres of trees. Plans were in the works to implement such programs (Department of Agriculture).
* Quality paints and varnishes were made from hemp seed oil until 1937. 58,000 tons of hemp seeds were used in America for paint products in 1935; (Sherwin-Williams Paint Co. testimony before Congress against the 1937 Marijuana Tax Act).
* Hemp called ‘Billion Dollar Crop.’ It was the first time a cash crop had a business potential to exceed a billion dollars (Popular Mechanics, Feb., 1938).
* Mechanical Engineering Magazine (Feb. 1938) published an article entitled ‘The Most Profitable and Desirable Crop that Can be Grown.’ It stated that if hemp was cultivated using 20th Century technology, it would be the single largest agricultural crop in the U.S. and the rest of the world.
* Hemp is fully international: “Canamo” in Spanish, “Chanvre” in French, “Konoplya” in Russian, “Hanf” in German, “Kender” in Hungarian, “Tai Ma” in Chinese, “Cinepa” in Romanian.
Everybody knows the Japanese currency, the yen (¥). In Japanese it is pronounced en and it’s kanji also means circle, or round. There is an anecdote that this fact prompted U.S. General McArthur to set the initial yen-dollar exchange rate at 360 yen to the dollar, for there are 360 degrees in a circle. True or not, the Yen are called what they are called because they literally used to be circles with a hole in the middle, just like a washer. In fact two of the yen coins in circulation today, the 5 yen and 50 yen coins are still like that. The reason for the hole is that coins used to be lined up on hemp strings and carried around like that. In historic Japan (as in China before) everybody’s wallet used to be a piece of hemp, the most durable and trusted natural fibre known to man
* The Chernobyl Nuclear Plant Reactor 4 in the Ukraine caused severe radioactive contamination in April 1986. Industrial Hemp has been used to remove contaminants from the soils, called phytoremediation.
Hemp cultivation and production do not harm the environment. The USDA Bulletin #404 concluded that hemp produces 4 times as much pulp with at least 4 to 7 times less pollution. (Popular Mechanics, Feb. 1938).
Consider a few more facts about hemp:-
• Hemp does not require herbicides or pesticides.
• Hemp can be grown in a wide range of latitudes and altitudes.
• Hemp replenishes soil with nutrients and nitrogen, making it an excellent rotational crop.
• Hemp controls erosion of the topsoil.
• Hemp converts CO2 to oxygen better than trees.
• Hemp produces more oil than any other crop, which can be used for food, fuel, lubricants, soaps, etc.
• Hemp nut is a very healthy food, being the highest protein crop (after soybean) and high in omega oils.
• Hemp can be used for making plastics, including car parts.
• Hemp makes paper more efficiently and ecologically than wood, requiring no chemical glues.
• Hemp can be used to make fiberboard.
• Hemp can be used to make paint.
• Hemp can produce bio-fuel and ethanol (better than corn).
• Hemp can be grown more than once per year.
• Hemp fibers can make very strong rope and textiles.
You can also read the whole chronology of Industrial Hemp at Hemphasis