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Italian consortium adds biomass facilities in expansion of whole-plant strategy

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Italian consortium Bio Hemp Farming has inaugurated a cryogenic processing center to turn out biomass for medical-grade CBD, adding a key component as it continues to develop consolidated whole-plant hemp supply chains in southern Italy.

The consortium received Italy’s first authorization to make medical-grade CBD last year, a major step forward in the creation of a certified supply chain to extract active ingredients for cannabidiol-based drugs, Bio Hemp said.

“With the first Italian authorization granted to Bio Hemp Farming, a big step forward was taken from a regulatory point of view,” said Pietro Paolo Crocetta, president of the consortium.

“Now we are ready to carry on our core business in the pharmaceutical sector, and differentiate ourselves from the so-called recreational market,” Crocetta said.

The consortium said its goal with the new facilities is to help meet the demand for cannabinoids in Italy, which current imports fail to fulfill.

Pietro Paolo Crocetta, president of Bio Hemp Farming (left); and Lio Lo Conte, the consortium’s vice president.

Competing in Europe

Bio Hemp Farming has said it is creating a regional processing center that embraces the entire hemp plant and will be competitive at the European level.

Based in Puglia, the region that forms the heel of southern Italy’s “boot,” Bio Hemp already operates a fiber processing supply chain that is turning crops from local farms into hemp-based building materials for the construction industry.

Bio Hemp Farming comprises Bio Hemp Trade, an agricultural research and development unit, and the Palma d’Oro Cooperative, which manages 300 hectares of Italian hemp crops in Puglia. The consortium is part of the Crystal Hemp group, a life science company that develops formulations for the prevention and treatment of chronic inflammation, and those that act on the endocannabinoid system.

Freezing technology

The new cryogenic processing system employs up-to-date freezing technology that preserves the non-psychotropic hemp compounds in hemp. The biomass will be shipped to customers who will turn it into medical CBD, Bio Hemp said.

Researchers have said cryogenics offers game-changing solutions for the biotech and food industries, improving efficiency at several points along the production chain. For storage, the process uses liquid nitrogen for flash freezing freshly-harvested hemp to prevent biomass degradation and mold while locking in the chemical content.

The system, developed by Palma d’Oro, improves material stability and guarantees safety through an industrial-scale process that works fast while reducing energy consumption, said Bio Hemp agronomist Marcello Scarcella.

The new facility was named after Marco Ianniciello, an engineer who died last year.

Filippo Gallinella, president of the Italian Agriculture Commission, and Giuseppe L’Abbate, former undersecretary for Agricultural, Food and Forestry Policies, attended the inauguration of the new facilities in late February.

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