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OSU applies for permission to research industrial hemp

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Condor65   Monday, 11/09/15 10:13:20 AM
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OSU applies for permission to research industrial hemp


By Ilene Aleshire

The Register-Guard

Nov. 6, 2015

CORVALLIS — Oregon State University is asking the federal government for permission to conduct research on industrial hemp, university officials said Thursday.

Agricultural sciences faculty “believe there is interest within Oregon for industrial hemp production and related research, as well as potential to promote the crop’s agricultural and economic opportunities,” a university spokesman said.

OSU hopes to get approval from the federal Drug Enforcement Administration and the Oregon Department of Agriculture in time to begin research trials for the 2016 growing season, according to Jay Noller, head of the crop and soil science department in the College of Agricultural Sciences.

He said the research probably will focus on productivity, yield and growing conditions in Western Oregon. Potential uses for industrial hemp include paper, textiles, biodegradable plastics, fuel, and health and food products.

“We still need to secure funding for the research once the other hurdles are cleared,” Noller said in a prepared statement.

News of OSU’s application was cheered by members of Oregon’s congressional delegation.

“The industrial hemp industry holds enormous potential benefit for Oregon agriculture,” said U.S. Rep. Peter DeFazio, adding, “With OSU leading the way, once again Oregon will pioneer in a promising area of agriculture.”

U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden said “researching the vast potential for hemp is the first key step to making Oregon a national leader in industrial hemp production, which is why I’m so glad Oregon State University today announced it’s working toward that goal,”

Wyden said he will continue to work on building support for the bipartisan Industrial Hemp Farming Act that he introduced earlier this year, “to remove outdated barriers to innovation and make room for a thriving hemp industry in Oregon.”

U.S. Oregon Reps. Earl Blumenauer, Kurt Schrader and Suzanne Bonamici also said they welcomed the move by OSU.

OSU officials said they expect to have the results of peer-reviewed research regarding industrial hemp available in three to five years, and said research would require up to $2.5 million in funding during that time.

The growing and distribution of industrial hemp is regulated by the federal Controlled Substances Act. The law bars OSU faculty from performing research that involves the possession, use or distribution of hemp unless such research falls within already established federal guidelines.

The federal 2014 Farm Bill does allow universities to do research on industrial hemp if the university is located in a state where industrial hemp production is legal.

The hemp plant is fast-growing, requires few pesticides and could potentially lead to replacing some environmentally harmful products, OSU officials said.

Steve Clark, OSU vice president for university relations and marketing, said the university’s application to conduct industrial hemp research “will not extend to research related to the cultivation or propagation of marijuana.”

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