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Government mulls on hemp in food

Hemp farmer Andrew Kavasilas inspects his crop. Mr Kavasilas is excited by news the Food Standards Authority of Australia and New Zealand is considering an application to permit food derived from hemp.
Hemp farmer Andrew Kavasilas inspects his crop. Mr Kavasilas is excited by news the Food Standards Authority of Australia and New Zealand is considering an application to permit food derived from hemp. Jerad Williams

INDUSTRIAL-hemp grower, researcher and author Andrew Kavasilas has welcomed a step by Australian authorities towards allowing the production of hemp for food.

The Food Standards Authority of Australia and New Zealand is currently considering an application to permit food derived from hemp, and has released a paper for public discussion calling on interested parties to comment before April 27.

“We have fibre-only legislation in the participating states, but that’s like saying you can grow wheat for the chaff,” Mr Kavasilas said.

“There is no more nutritious whole grain than the hemp seed. I still can’t understand how every other country has allowed hemp foods for ages while successive Australian governments have dismissed the health benefits and agricultural opportunity offered.”

State, territory and federal ministers rejected a similar application in 2002, citing potential drug-law enforcement problems, and concerns such a move could “increase consumer acceptance of illicit cannabis use” despite the varieties having negligible quantities of psychoactive properties.

The authority has since acknowledged the health benefits of hemp-seed oil and its widespread use in Europe, Canada and the United States.

Hempseeds are rich in the essential fatty acids, omega-3 and omega-6, which are required for vital body functions, including the immune response, lipid hydrolysis, blood clotting, vascular dilation and cardiac function.

Mr Kavasilas is a licensed NSW hemp grower who has been pushing for hemp-seed consumption approval for more than 12 years and said it has come at the right time.

“Health-conscious consumers have accessed hemp foods via the web for a while now,” he said.

“It’s time for Australian farmers to get a foothold in hemp’s billion-dollar global industry.”

Mr Kavasilas has been trialling fast-growing hemp for fibre and food, growing it between rows of macadamias on two Northern Rivers’ farms, but said the plant also had the potential to be grown on a broad scale and harvested with modified farming machinery.

A field day and membership drive for the Northern Rivers Hemp Association will be held on Saturday at Eltham.

For start times and directions call Mr Kavasilas on 0427 897 968 or 6689 1998.


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