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The Return of King Hemp?

The Return of King Hemp?

When we think of hemp, many of us may think of those hemp necklaces that we see wannabe hippies wearing, or nowadays, hemp clothing. Yes, with the growing trend of ecologically friendly clothing, hemp has made a return in the textile industry. Of course, cotton is still king, but hemp itself is in fact stronger, better for the environment and easier to grow than cotton.

While cotton was (and still is) the backbone of American textiles, the crop itself can only be grown in certain climates and falls prey to many insects and diseases. Cotton uses around 25% of the world’s pesticides and 10% of the world’s insecticides [Source: Organic Trade Organization]. Cotton diseases and pests, especially the boll weevil, can wipe out entire cotton plantations.

Although today, the boll weevil population is under control, this pest still costs US cotton producers $300 million a year [Source: Wikipedia]. Still, pesticides and insecticides are not always effective and many cotton growers have become environmentally conscious and realized that spraying cotton with toxic chemicals might not be the best idea. Scientists have created genetically modified cotton that contains a protein from the Bacillus thuringiensis. This protein creates a toxin that is harmful to a handful of insects (moths, butterflies, flies and beetles) and reduces the need for insecticide management. The BT cotton is ineffective against many pests like aphids and plant bugs, which is why cotton is one of the most heavily-sprayed crops in the world.

Of course, with the growing trend of eco-conscious products, some cotton producers have begun to grow organic cotton (not to mention the World Health Organization estimated that 20,000 deaths occur from pesticide poisoning in developing worlds [Source: United Nations Environment Programme). What differentiates this cotton from normal?  Organic cotton does not use any pesticides and is not genetically modified. The actual growing of the cotton is also different between organic and non-organic cotton. With regular cotton, the crop is planted, harvest and replanted in the same plantations. Since cotton is a very thirsty crop, this can lead to desertification, like what happened in Uzbekistan, or salination, like in the Soviet Union. Organic cotton is rotated every year, allowing time for the nutrients and water in the ground to be replenished.

But even with the onset of organic cotton, hemp itself is much more eco-friendly and can be used in much the same way as cotton. In fact, it had been used in the US up until the 1930s and was made illegal the same time as marijuana. Until that point, it was used in almost everything from Revolutionary War uniforms to the Constitution.  It has been used for far longer than cotton, since hemp can grow in almost any condition, requires very little pesticide and herbicide and is one of the fastest growing known biomasses. Most of us know that hemp can be used to make various types of clothing and accessories (shoes, purses etc), but due to its tensile strength, fiber length and diameter, it served a variety of purposes like: rope, strengthening building materials and creating paper. And unlike the cotton plant, almost every part of the hemp plant is usable. The seeds contain essential amino acids for humans and can be eaten raw or cooked…or even made into hemp milk, tofu and even butter. The seeds actually contain almost as much protein as milk, meat, eggs or soy and are high in calcium and iron. The oil itself has been shown to relieve symptoms of eczema and also has anti-inflammatory properties. And like vegetable oil, hempseed oil can also be used as a biofuel and allow diesel cars to run off of something more sustainable [Source: Global Hemp].

Even though it is illegal to grow hemp in the US, many other countries – over 30 countries including the UK and Japan – produce industrial hemp. Many states in the US have even passed laws making hemp farms a possibility, Hawaii being the first state to pass licenses on hemp farms. While hemp fibers are used much like cotton is, the plant itself is much better for the environment. It doesn’t drain water from the soil and is actually used to purify water and soil. In fact, it is currently being used to clean up the soil at the Chernobyl site [Source: Current.com]. This highly adaptable plant should regain its rightful title as King, and, like that 1940s WWII PSA said, we need to start using Hemp for Victory [Source: YouTube].

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31 comments

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12:41PM PST on Mar 9, 2010

Have you seen the youtube videos Run From The Cure by Rick Simson also called the Rick Simson Story. Several people have used 1 gram of high quality weed oil on their tounge every mourning for 6 months. After the 6 months several or a large percent of these people have been cured from Cancer some of them had terminal Cancer. They went to court with medical doccuments and Cancer specialists but the court wouldn't listen to them. If I had Cancer I would try this and to hell with the law. I would continue to take all prescribed treatments and take the weed oil as well. The videos are made not by a young weed smoker but by a senior citizen who tried weed oil to help with problems conected with Cancer treatments. The videos are on my website www.greeninventions.info Although this is a green invention website I also have several videos on Hemp and most of the Rick Simson videos and links to the rest. Hemp is Mother nature's best green invention, Super Food and countless medicinal properties.

12:47PM PDT on Sep 22, 2009

Is it just me or everything that is good for the environment and people is bad for the government and major companies?

1:12AM PDT on Sep 22, 2009

The hemp you use for clothing isn't the same kind you use for getting high.

6:20PM PDT on Sep 20, 2009

Ok, it's obvious from the comments (and the author could have made it clearer) that people don't understand that hemp and marijuana are NOT the same plant. They are close cousins, similar in appearance, but the plant used for textiles DOESN'T have the ability to get you high. The reason hemp was made illegal at the same time as marijuana was because the man behind the push was the US's largest Lumber Baron! At that time, 90% of the world's books and paper was made from hemp. Make sense now?

11:59PM PDT on Sep 18, 2009

How to tax weed and take the money from production and distribution, out of organized crime.

First sell permits for people to grow their own personal weed, only enough for personal use.
The power companies would make money and the solar power companies as well.
The governernment would make money off yearly permits and anyone growing more than personal would lose their permit.

This would take the sale and production of weed out of organized crime.

Why support organized crime if you dont have too.

Organized criminals like the drug war it keeps them in control.

The war on drugs is a total flop.
If you can't keep people out of the country, then how do you stop those same people from carring weed Etc. across the border.

If you tell your kids that weed is dangerous and bad, what are they going to think when they try it and like it and find nothing bad about it?

Will they believe you when it comes to hard drugs after you cried wolf?

I would sooner have friends that smoke weed than drink alcohol or smoke cigerets.

I just had a friend drink him self to death and I have a few other friends that are working at it.

Weed should be treated like alcohol, but now you pee in a bottle, instead of a breath test

7:28AM PDT on Sep 18, 2009

This article talks about the control of-- "Although today, the boll weevil population is under control, this pest still costs US cotton producers $300 million a year"

What about the chemicals used to obtain this. Money spent is less important than the harm this process has caused to our environment. Our children will pay dearly for this.

5:25AM PDT on Sep 18, 2009

Hemp paper was used on the signing of the Constitution, the sails on the ships and millions of other useful things. The herb is used for Cancer, Aids and many other medicinal purposes. It's time we were allowed to use this God made plant for many helpful things. Legalize what once used many moons ago. Anita Murray Cook

12:53PM PDT on Sep 17, 2009

Yes! Legalize hemp! It's idiotic that something so useful is illegal just cuz hippies get high off it. I mean, people get high off glue but we're not making that criminal!

1:01PM PDT on Sep 16, 2009

Hemp and Marijuana are benign and beneficial. Time to legalize them and use them without fear of being thrown into prison. A bad law is simply that: A BAD LAW.

Ask your congressperson to repeal this bad law.

7:49AM PDT on Sep 16, 2009

Industrial Hemp is NOT Marijuana.

Some of the Lakota people tried growing industrial hemp on reservation land and the government went in and destroyed their crops not once but twice.

Industrial Hemp has such a wide variety of uses and does not need heavy chemical pesticide/fertilization to produce a high crop yeild. It would benefit our country to return to the growing of this plant and utilizing it to it's fullest. It is time that the prohibition on Industrial Hemp be removed, thereby allowing us to move forward in it's production. Our elected representatives need to restore Industrial Hemp's status as a legal crop.

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