Sen. Charles E. Schumer announced today that $500,000 in federal funding will go to Geneva to establish a seed repository for the hemp industry.
The money will go specifically to the Agricultural Research Service of the US Department of Agriculture, which has an outpost on the Cornell AgriTech campus. The ARS would establish the nation’s only industrial hemp germplasm repository.
Germplasm includes seeds, cuttings and other genetic material of plants.
“Not only will this facility act as the United States’ only industrial hemp seed bank, but it will also allow the world-class agricultural scientists at Cornell to help boost industrial hemp entrepreneurship,” Schumer said.
Kathryn J. Boor, dean of Cornell University’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences said, “The hemp seed bank and the research that it will allow by our Cornell and USDA-ARS scientists will be vital resources for New York state farmers.”
Until the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill, hemp had been considered a controlled substance because it is a member of the cannabis plant family and contains extremely low levels of the active ingredient in marijuana.
Schumer said a germplasm repository for hemp used to exist but its collection was destroyed when hemp became a controlled substance. He called the $500,000 allocation a “down payment” necessary to rebuild hemp cultivation and provide the means to make it a viable cash crop in New York. Hemp has applications for use in food, oil, and cosmetic products.
Cornell and USDA scientists maintain and have access to other germplasm repositories at Cornell AgriTech, including some for grape, apple, cherry, tomato and members of the brassica family (cabbage, cauliflower, kale and broccoli among others.)
In February, a panel discussion convened by American Cannabis Co. concluded that lack of germplasm repositories is holding back the industry.
Mitch Day, a science consultant working with ACC, said that similar to other crops, development of hemp needs plant breeding. “Breeding is the most effective way to increase yields, and germplasm is the raw material for that breeding.”
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