This week, the 12th International Conference of the EIHA is held in Wesseling near Cologne.
After years of constantly rising conference participant numbers, more than 240 attendees are registered this year – more than twice as much as only five years ago.
During this morning, interesting and passionate spekears – one could even go as far as calling them ‘industrial hemp piononeers’ have shared their views on the current worldwide industrial hemp market (Michael Carus), on the history of industrial hemp in Italy and its recent promotion by one single passionate Lady (Rachele Invernizzi), the hemp market in Austria (David Rosse) and the Czech Republic (Hana Gabrielova)… and last but not least the impressive fight against harsh legislations in South Africa by the company Hemporium (Tony Budden).
But while this morning started with so much ambition and passion, the afternoon was continued rather disappointingly.
It was not about the results – industrial hemp once again showed off its advantages regarding greenhouse gas emissions (even though you had to do your best to read in between the lines to see its superiority – why not compare the GHGE to its conventionel opponents instead of showing that kenaf, flax, Jute and hemp are all more or less as great as the other?!), and also its potential for lightweight construction and cost savings was shown.
But when people tell me that the ecological benefits should rather not be mentioned at all in order prevent being put into the ‘eco corner’ and just talk costs and innovation – then I start asking myself how the hell can industries possibly not always aim for the most ecological friendly materials? And why on earth should I neglect my beliefs and assimilate into an industrial logic which is not mine – and hopefully never will be?! Might one of the problems possibly be the targeted industry everybody tries to catch – the rich automotive industry. Sadly, most talks this afternoon concerned hardly anything else than car components. Admittedly, cars may be built more lightweight and with less harmful materials – but running after an industry which is still responsible for overcrowded yet deserted cities, pollution, health problems and isolation is not what should stand on top of our priority list.
Surprisingly, most of this afternoon talks also did not really have hemp related results as their core findings – most of the presented materials were flax derived materials. Of course you can say that flax is a good study case for future hemp tests – or did some companies just want to present their other great materials or lacked other results?!
Another highly controversial talk presented this afternoon introduced the new hemp super harvester – the Double Cut Combine. While it did indeed sound very impressive that high-quality seeds, leaves and bast fibres can be harvested all at once – gigantic machines like this – which was presented for several minutes in a Hollywood – Star Wars like (not ironically meant) film – which can harvest up to 2ha – that is 20000 m2 – per hour and weights several tons, not even to talk about the price – are the core and at the same time the foundation of the large-scale, highly destructive industrial agriculture. May the benefits of hemp agriculture for the structure and nutrition density of the soil theoretically be as high as they are – machines like that destroy all of it in just one second. And once such machines become the norm, no small-scale farming is possible anymore – because again, everybody just wants to talk money.
We’ll see what the second day of the conference will bring…