In the words of Thomas Jefferson, the third American president and avid hemp farmer: “Hemp is one of the greatest and most important substances in our nation.” About two hundred years later, the United States finally takes Mr. Jefferson at his word.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced on April 27 that it was partnering with a private chemical company on a two-year project that could significantly expand the market for hemp-infused cosmetics.
The aim of the project is to develop new processes that could produce what the USDA calls “cosmeceuticals”, or ingredients that “perform certain functions, e.g. B. the protection of the skin against UV light, the retention of moisture or the stabilization of other active ingredients that are used in skin care formulations ”.
The USDA Agricultural Research Service announced that it will partner with the Illinois-based Midwest Bioprocessing Center (MBC) to apply a manufacturing process called “biocatalysis” to hemp seed oil. By using enzymes and heat, biocatalysis avoids toxic substances and harsh solvents when antioxidants are bound to fats in products like vegetable oil (see the USDA tweet below).
Previous USDA scientific work has shown that this process can be used to make compounds called feruloyl soy glycerides, which are made from soybean oil. These glycerides have since been used as an ingredient in personal care products “because of the UV absorption and antioxidant properties they offered,” said the USDA.
Now the USDA is interested in investigating the potential of applying this technique to hemp seed oil. It is just the most recent example of Uncle Sam showing great interest in the development of the hemp industry. USDA stated, “Working with industry partners such as MBC, who have experience in enzymology and scale-up infrastructure, is critical to exploring advanced applications for our original technology.”
The USDA also stated that its researchers are developing innovative new methods to “better process hemp into fuels, lubricants and adhesives, as well as functional food ingredients and fiber products.” At the same time, the USDA is seeking permission to collect hemp production data from tens of thousands of farmers and ranchers.
High hopes for hemp …
The cultivation of industrial hemp was banned in the 1970s when the federal government tightened the criminal code on marijuana. Hemp was caught in the “war on drugs” but contains little of the psychoactive component THC found in marijuana.
But these days, hemp is legal thanks to the 2018 Farm Bill. Large corporations infuse the newly licensed plant with a variety of common consumer products.
Read this story: Hemp joins the consumer’s big boys
Hemp is the strongest natural fiber in the world and is used up to 50,000 times, many of them in the industrial sector. Hemp also promotes various food, beverage, health, and personal care uses.
Hemp and marijuana are botanical cousins, although the former do not convey the “buzz” of the latter. As the hemp industry grows and penetrates the consumer retail market, more and more marijuana companies are branching out into hemp and making it a part of their product menus.
Hemp and marijuana are symbiotic markets. Marijuana tends to get the most media attention, but it doesn’t miss out on the booming hemp industry. Indeed, hemp is becoming a national fad. Thomas Jefferson would agree.
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