The Federation of International Hemp Organizations has called for an immediate moratorium on genetically engineered and genetically modified hemp varieties.
FIHO is comprised of associations scattered across the world, including the Australian Industrial Hemp Alliance (AIHA).
With the global industrial hemp industry really getting into gear after decades of cultivation prohibition in many jurisdictions, it was only a matter of time before genetically modified (GM) and genetically engineered (GE) crops started vying for space at the table.
After the recent USDA approval of the first known genetically engineered industrial hemp variety, FIHO is raising awareness and communicating its concerns on the issues surround GE/GM cannabis; with a special focus on hemp.
Among the issues, FIHO says cross pollination of GE/GM hemp with traditionally-bred varieties is a concern as it could potentially lead to the introduction of GE/GM traits to the latter. Companies producing GE/GM hemp seeds could also prosecute farmers using non-GE/GM seeds that were accidentally cross-pollinated by these varieties. There is precedent for this happening in terms of other GM crops.
In addition to this and various other potential environmental impacts, FIHO points out a number of regulatory and trade issues, allergenicity and health, and social and economic concerns.
“Until these concerns can be addressed, FIHO asks all stakeholders to call for a moratorium on outdoor production of genetically engineered (GE) and genetically modified (GM) hemp and cannabis until risks have been analyzed and risk mitigation has been developed,” states FIHO.
FIHO has recommended risk assessment and risk mitigation activities be science-based and “not reflect regional political priorities”.
The organisation says it will continue in its mission to encourage and support research and innovation. But this includes working with international regulators to ensure “sound science-based policies” are in place that will protect producers while strengthening the global hemp industry.
Commenting further on the GM/GE issue, FIHO says:
“For FIHO, one of the main issues is the risk of destabilizing the global market, as the concerns are compelling for producers and manufacturers of hemp products.”
The full text of FIHO’s current position on GM/GE hemp can be viewed here.