Cannabis Magnate Ben Dronkers Nominated For International Hemp Activism Award

24 09 2010

 

Ben and Jack hanging out

Ben Dronkers & Jack Herer

 

Ben Dronkers described his reaction as ‘pleased and surprised’ upon learning of his nomination for Outstanding International Hemp Activist of the Year in the Jack Herer Awards 2010. Ben is one of Europe’s leading hemp entrepreneurs and the man behind HempFlax and the world famous Hash Marihuana & Hemp Museum, as well as Sensi Seeds, which this year celebrates its 25th anniversary.

Industrial Hemp Revolution

When he began HempFlax in 1993, the proud Dutch tradition of hemp farming had lain dormant for half a century. Specialized hemp harvesting and processing machinery was designed, developed and patented by HempFlax, beginning an industrial hemp revolution. Ben and his dedicated team single-handedly revived the Dutch  market for hemp.

Smoking Bunnies

Some of the products even caused amusement:  jokes circulated about bunnies getting stoned on their hemp fibre bedding. Over two decades later, Ben is the one having the last laugh. HempFlax now harvests and processes 2400 hectares (5930 acres) per year. The fibre and hurds are used by major companies such as BMW, and the Queen of England’s horses are stabled on HempFlax bedding (along with thousands of happy bunnies throughout Europe).

Hemp Research Continues

Ben’s take on what really makes HempFlax special is that the whole production chain, from sowing to marketing, is geared towards optimum environmental benefit, use and application of this astonishing resource. The research and development into hemp’s vast potential to offer us a sustainable future continues.

Smoking Buddies

The Jack Herer Awards began in 2004  to honour exceptional achievement in hemp activism. The Award Ceremony takes place on October 7th, and this year will feature a tribute to Jack himself, dearly missed by the cannabis community worldwide after his passing earlier this year. Jack and Ben were close friends, and in 2005 Ben presented Jack with the Hash Marihuana & Hemp Museum’s annual Cannabis Culture Award (Cannabis Cultuur Prijs) to honour and applaud Jack’s great part in the cannabis crusade. It is easy to imagine Jack appreciating, with a smile, his smoking buddy’s nomination for a Jack Herer Award.





Area 420: Secret Hemp Research Facility Could Save Uruguay!

9 09 2010

Industrial hemp with happy cow, HempFlax, NL

Farming industrial hemp could offer Uruguay a simple and elegant solution to a host of serious environmental problems that are currently damaging the country. Tests by the National Institute for Farming Technology are scheduled to start next month at a secret location and will explore hemp’s potential for production and the suitability of various strains.

Uruguay, a small nation tucked between Brazil and Argentina, and advertised to tourists as ‘A Natural Country’, is rapidly becoming anything but natural. Abnormally large numbers of dead animals, birds and fish have been turning up in the last year and cancer is now the second most common cause of death in the human population. Herbicides, fungicides and pesticides, many of them carcinogenic, are currently being used in massive amounts all across the country. Tragically, many users are small-scale farmers who are not aware of the toxicity of these substances and the dangers they pose. Many farmers do not wear or are unable to afford the necessary protective equipment and the chemicals are often used indiscriminately, without proper instructions.

Industrial hemp, with its fast growth and dense foliage, needs no herbicides to compete with weeds and other plants – it simply outgrows them. This alone would be a massive boon to both the farmers and the ecology of Uruguay. Hemp has proven effective in cleaning pollutants and heavy metals from soil; it is feasible that it could also work for removing agrochemical toxins. Hemp’s composted foliage makes an excellent fertilizer which can replenish vital nutrients in soil, while its deep root system aerates and improves the land. Hemp can actually improve the yields of many other food crops when grown in rotation.

Soy is currently one of Uruguay’s main food crops. Transgenic soy – specifically Monsanto’s RoundUp Ready (RR) soy – covers more than 600,000 hectares of Uruguayan farmland and is closely linked to both ecological and economic problems. RR soy is genetically engineered to be resistant to RoundUp, a highly toxic glyphosate-based herbicide (also invented by Monsanto) which has been banned in several countries. RR soy’s main selling point is that fields in which it is cultivated can be sprayed indiscriminately with RoundUp, which will kill all other plant life while leaving the GM soy intact. Given that RoundUp is toxic to mammals (including humans), birds, amphibians, fish and invertebrates, it goes without saying that widespread and high-volume use is capable of significant environmental damage.

Ingested quantities of RoundUp as small as 85ml can kill humans within hours due to organ failure, and much smaller amounts have been shown to cause endocrine disruption (damage to reproductive development) and genetic damage.

Furthermore the cultivation of RR soy is only economically feasible on a large scale (due to the costs of the patented seed and of the accompanying herbicide), making the crop economically damaging to small farmers. Worse still, RR soy has been found to yield significantly less (~6.7%) than unmodified soy varieties.

The nutritional value of hempseeds is by now widely known; hempseed yields 30% oil by weight compared to the 18% for soy. The balance of essential fatty acids in hempseed is far superior to that of soy and the two crops yield comparable amounts of valuable vegetable protein. Replacing the current soy crop with hemp would only be beneficial for all Uruguayans.

Uruguay is set to become the first South American nation to invest in industrial hemp and hopefully, in the not-to-distant future, this progressive and principled decision will be the catalyst for change in its larger neighbors. Last week, Argentinean film maker Ricardo Manochi visited the Hash Marihuana & Hemp Museum in Amsterdam to shoot footage for a new documentary and to research industrial hemp cultivation and processing in the Netherlands, where pioneering company HempFlax is one of the largest European producers of industrial hemp. He expressed hope that, if the Uruguayan trials succeed, Argentina – where transgenic soy accounts for over half of all agricultural output – will be the next to follow.





Nutrient deficiency: Phosphorus (P)

7 09 2010

Phosphorus summary

Phosphorus plays an important role in all living organisms and forms an essential element in plant and animal foodstuffs. It has a key position in cell metabolism and the plant’s total energy transfer. It is also a building block for the cell walls, DNA and all sorts of proteins and enzymes. The availability of phosphate is essential for young plants since approximately three-quarters of the total amount of phosphorus absorbed by the plant occurs before it is a quarter of the way through its life cycle! The biggest concentrations of phosphorus are also found in the self-developing plant parts such as the roots, side shoots and vascular tissue.

Phosphorus is a non-metal, chemical element which, because of its nature, is not found in its pure form because it is extremely reactive. It was discovered in 1669 by an alchemist who was condensing urine in an attempt to make gold. Phosphate compounds are rarely found in nature in the form that plants can utilise. Ground bones (bone meal) were previously used as fertilizer and they were later treated with sulphuric acid which made the phosphates a lot easier to absorb. In the second half of the 19th century, guano, a natural phosphate fertilizer, was dug up on a large scale and used in farming. These raw materials are currently obtained from rock phosphates which are phosphate rich ores. Some of the locations where this is mined include Morocco, Algeria and North and South America. In order to make rock phosphates suitable for use in agriculture and market gardening they are first acidified and purified. In alternative agriculture they are first finely ground or heated and are then available to the trade as expanded granules.

  • In the beginning the plant has a dark green color but it’s a different dark green (blue-green) from that of a K deficiency.
  • Growth in height and the development of side shoots are inhibited.
  • After 2 to 3 weeks dark purple/black necrotic spots form on the older and middle-aged leaves causing them to deform.
  • The purple/black necrosis later spreads out to the leaf stalks. The leaves turn, curl badly and die.

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Cannabis gateway theory challenged by new research results

3 09 2010

DURHAM, N.H. — New research from the University of New Hampshire shows that the “gateway effect” of marijuana — that teenagers who use marijuana are more likely to move on to harder illicit drugs as young adults — is overblown.

Billboard paid for by US tax payers in Portland

Whether teenagers who smoked pot will use other illicit drugs as young adults has more to do with life factors such as employment status and stress, according to the new research. In fact, the strongest predictor of whether someone will use other illicit drugs is their race/ethnicity, not whether they ever used cannabis.

Conducted by UNH associate professors of sociology Karen Van Gundy and Cesar Rebellon, the research appears in the September 2010, issue of the Journal of Health and Social Behavior in the article, “A Life-course Perspective on the ‘Gateway Hypothesis’.”

“There seems to be this idea that we can prevent later drug problems by making sure kids never smoke pot,” Dr. Van Gundy, told CBS News. “But whether marijuana smokers go on to use other illicit drugs depends more on social factors like being exposed to stress and being unemployed – not so much whether they smoked a joint in the eighth grade.”

“In light of these findings, we urge U.S. drug control policymakers to consider stress and life-course approaches in their pursuit of solutions to the ‘drug problem,’ ” Van Gundy and Rebellon say.

The researchers used survey data from 1,286 young adults who attended Miami-Dade public schools in the 1990s. Within the final sample, 26 percent of the respondents are African American, 44 percent are Hispanic, and 30 percent are non-Hispanic white.

The researchers found that young adults who did not graduate from high school or attend college were more likely to have used marijuana as teenagers and other illicit substances in young adulthood. In addition, those who used marijuana as teenagers and were unemployed following high school were more likely to use other illicit drugs.

However, the association between teenage marijuana use and other illicit drug abuse by young adults fades once stresses, such as unemployment, diminish.

“Employment in young adulthood can protect people by ‘closing’ the cannabis gateway, so over-criminalizing youth marijuana use might create more serious problems if it interferes with later employment opportunities,” Van Gundy says.

In addition, once young adults reach age 21, the gateway effect subsides entirely.

“While marijuana use may serve as a gateway to other illicit drug use in adolescence, our results indicate that the effect may be short-lived, subsiding by age 21. Interestingly, age emerges as a protective status above and beyond the other life statuses and conditions considered here. We find that respondents ‘age out’ of marijuana’s gateway effect regardless of early teen stress exposure or education, work, or family statuses,” the researchers say.

The researchers found that the strongest predictor of other illicit drug use appears to be race-ethnicity, not prior use of marijuana. Non-Hispanic whites show the greatest odds of other illicit substance use, followed by Hispanics, and then by African Americans.

The University of New Hampshire, founded in 1866, is a world-class public research university with the feel of a New England liberal arts college. A land, sea, and space-grant university, UNH is the state’s flagship public institution, enrolling more than 12,200 undergraduate and 2,200 graduate students.

Past research had already largely invalidated the gateway theory. Most recently, in January a study was released indicating that marijuana use actually discourages hard drug use.
A 2002 RAND study dismissed the gateway theory and raised doubts about the legitimacy of federal drug policies based upon its premise.







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