U.S. Senate committee urges setting up hemp seed bank

A United States Senate committee has backed efforts to maintain an industrial hemp seed bank, recommending that the federal Agricultural Research Service set aside $500,000 for the project.

The Committee cited increasing demand for hemp-based products, and the expansion of hemp farming in the USA in putting forth the proposal. Forty-one U.S. states now have hemp legislation on the books.

The recommendation came in a report attached to a bill that funds the U.S. Department of Agriculture next year. “When the nation’s industrial hemp germplasm was destroyed in the 1980s, researchers lost access to publicly available germplasm for plant breeding purposes,” the committee noted in the report.

There are no publicly available germplasm collections of hemp (Cannabis Sativa) in North America after scores of seed collections acquired for studies conducted in the late 1970s were destroyed because the government never expected hemp would return as a crop.

“The scarcity of high quality hemp seed is a roadblock to the development of an American hemp industry,” Eric Steenstra, president of Vote Hemp, told Forbes. “We are extremely pleased that Congress is providing funding to ensure that USDA will once again collect and store hemp germplasm and make it available to American farmers and researchers.”

The new hemp seed stockpile will be located at a government Plant Genetics Research Unit in Columbia, Missouri.