Commercially legal crops of industrial hemp have been approved for the Australian state of New South Wales. The NSW Minister for Primary Industries reckons the approval could open up "the establishment of a new viable industry" for the state.
"For example, it could be used as an additive to wool in soft textured durable yarns, for insulation, as an alternative to fibreglass, in paper products and textiles and also for load bearing masonry for building. Hemp seed oil can also be used as a base for skin care products and paints.""The NSW Government will amend existing criminal drug laws to ensure that existing drug law enforcement is not compromised - and this position is supported by NSW Police," Minister Ian Macdonald said. And farmers looking to trial the crop will no longer need to get Department of Health approval.
The Ministers media release further states that trial crops in NSW have recently been yielding 10 to 12 tonnes of dry stem per hectare, which is apparently what Europe is able to achieve. Other the myriad production applications noted above, he environmental benefit of hemp crops is described thusly: "Not only does hemp require less chemical application than some conventional crops, it has the ability to 'lock up' carbon in the production phase, thereby making it an environmentally friendly crop."
This might be momentous news, if it weren't for the fact that many other states in Australia already have the ability to grow hemp commercially (see here for the grower guidelines in Queensland, for example). Why Australia's most populous state, NSW, has been dragging the chain on this is a bit of mystery. As is that laughable situation, which we discussed earlier, whereby the US can eat hemp - but not grow it, whilst Australia can grow - but not eat! ::NSW Department of Primary Industries, via Adelaide Now.
See Also: TreeHugger Eco-Tip : Hemp.
And you might like to peruse more hemp info from Purdue University's Center for New Crops & Plant Products.