Comments on a strange decision in Brussels

The flax and hemp committee of the European Union has passed a resolution, published in the "Merkblatt" (official publication) of the Bundesanstalt für Landwirtschaft und Ernährung (Referat 321), which is completely erroneous from a scientific point of view and which will lead to a reduction in income for the producers.  This resolution decrees that EU subsidies will only be paid to hemp growers who do not harvest their hemp until the seeds have ripened.  If the stand is harvested earlier, they will not only be refused a subsidy, but will also be liable to a fine of 50.000 DM.

    This resolution is unprecedented in the history of hemp production for its dilettantism and clumsy interference with the production process, which cannot be justified from any point of view, be it scientific, legal, economic, or any other.  This intervention in the production process is reminiscent of the centralised planning directives of the communist era, though even during that period such enormous anomalies did not occur.  I have the following comments to make on this resolution:
    1) No hemp farmer should be forced to produce seed when the aim is not seed production, but the production of raw material for the textile or cellulose industries, in which case the seed is lost.
    2) It is a well-known fact that, especially in the case of the textile industry, the fibre quality of densely sown fibre hemp is at its best at the beginning of female flowering, well before the beginning of seed setting.  By the end of seed ripening the quality is substantially worse, due to the lignification of the fibres and the accumulation of large quantities of secondary fibres.  This is particularly true for dioecious varieties.
    3) It is also common knowledge that even in varieties with a THC content of below 0.3 %, the THC content rises considerably at seed ripening, while it is lowest in the middle or at the end of flowering.  Dioecious varieties contain even less THC during this period, since male hemp does not form resin, so it has a negligible THC content.
    4) The resolution will promote abuses by making it easier to use stands of low THC hemp to hide plants with high THC contents, which must be grown to seed maturity for the production of marihuana or hashish.
    5) The resolution penalises farmers, as it deliberately reduces the yield, particularly in countries such as Germany, the Benelux countries and England, where the weather in late September and early October is often foggy or wet, making it impossible to harvest the crop at the correct time, to dry it and thus to transport it to the processors.  This is valid for both monoecious and dioecious varieties.   Naturally, the situation is different in France, where hemp is grown at a latitude of 46-48°N, under less critical weather conditions.
    6) The resolution is especially damaging to the dioecious Italian varieties Carmagnola, Cs and Fibranova, which are to be found on the EU list, but which could only be grown at great loss in northern countries with a maritime climate, since their seeds would not even mature, making it impossible to fulfil the harvesting conditions laid down in the resolution.
    In the light of the above it can only be concluded that some lobby is responsible for the passing of this resolution, since interference of this nature in purely professional questions of production cannot be justified by any rational scientific, legal or economic arguments.  It would appear that circles interested in the suppression of late-maturing and dioecious varieties in northern countries must be behind this decision.  It is sad to think that such a prestigious international organisation as the EU allows itself to be influenced by narrow-minded lobbyists.

    Prof. I. Bócsa, Kompolt, Hungary