The European Commission is about to kill the hemp sector. This disturbing statement is made by the European Industrial Hemp Association (EIHA).
The concerns of the EIHA are the result of a preliminary position on the legal position of hemp (Cannabis sativa) in EU law. As part of this, shortly before the summer holidays, the EU's executive body withheld all applications from companies that want to make hemp extracts and natural cannabinoids under the so-called "Novel Food regulation". These companies were told that extracts of industrial hemp, including CBD, are considered "drugs".
According to the EIHA, which has been campaigning for a wider use of hemp since 2005, this position is mainly politically motivated. It would not only clash with existing legislation but also with the conclusions of modern scientific research on industrial hemp. The EIHA states that industrial hemp and products made from it cannot be considered a drug, and that this has been recognized by the United Nations, among others, since 1961.
Do not forbid, but encourage...
The EIHA does not limit itself to protesting these measures, but emphasizes that if the EU wants to realize its plans for a Green Deal, it must be fully committed to the opportunities that hemp offers. The possible applications of hemp in all kinds of areas, from the food sector to the construction industry, will have to be seriously considered. The EIHA emphasizes that hemp has the potential to accelerate the transition to a zero-emission and bio-based economy.
To underline these possibilities, the organization published the manifesto “Hemp. A real green deal ”, which also emphasizes the value of hemp textiles.
Particularly after the Second World War, hemp textiles quickly lost ground to cheaper synthetic fibers, all of which are petroleum derivatives. Companies that processed hemp into cloth and clothing were quickly closed in those years, after which not only many machines were transported to China, but important know-how also largely disappeared.
The EU could play an important role in bringing back the production chain to Europe, the EIHA emphasizes. This could start with:
1) more hemp on the fields (more cultivation);
2) stimulating the first stages in the hemp processing into textile fibers. Hemp requires quite a lot of processing before it can be used as a textile fiber. Incentives should follow in order to be able to pick up the first operations, cranking and carding of hemp. This includes financial support as well as training facilities.
The EIHA calls on the EU to develop a vision on the textile industry. This Textile Strategy should focus on sustainability. For example, it should become mandatory to make textile products partly from natural fibers, in order to reduce pollution with micro-plastics. In addition, investments must be made in R&D that must not only be applied to production but also, for example, to the development of good quality hemp.
You can download the piece "Hemp, a real green deal" here.