California Hemp Corporation, an innovative, technology-driven genetics company in the hemp seed market and Benson Hill Biosystems, a crop improvement company unlocking the natural diversity of plants, today announced at the Industrial Hemp Summit they have entered into a sponsored research agreement with the laboratory of Dr. Edward Charles Brummer at the University of California, Davis(UC Davis). The research is designed to breed improved cultivars of Cannabis sativa, commonly referred to as industrial hemp. Desired strain traits include high cannabidiol (CBD) and low tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) content and suitability for growing in the environmental and soil conditions of Central California and similar climates. This multi-year initiative is expected to result in a broad portfolio of commercial field-grown hemp varietals cultivated for health and wellness products. This is the first significant cannabis research project initiated by the University of California system.
“We’re gratified and excited to be leading this project,” said Dr. Brummer of UC, Davis. “It will be among the first significant hemp breeding program of its kind, for what may be the most important crop in a generation. It will also be our first use of groundbreaking breeding technology, which we believe has the potential to become the standard for the next generation of breeding professionals.”
Under the terms of the agreement, scientists at UC Davis will utilize data from Hungry Planet Intelligence and Benson Hill Biosystems’ computational platform Breed, powered by CropOS™ to predict combinations for seed optimization. CropOS™ utilizes predictive analytics to quickly identify and select desirable quality traits, bypassing multiple generations of field experimentation to develop improved varieties with greater precision and efficiency than traditional breeding methods.
“Hemp is a versatile crop that has not been fully optimized for industrial food and fiber uses,” said Matt Crisp, CEO and co-founder of Benson Hill Biosystems. “The data analytics and machine learning capabilities of CropOS will tap the rich genetic diversity within this natural resource to develop improved varieties for use in nutritional and wellness products.”
In December the 2018 Farm Bill was signed in law redefining hemp as an agricultural commodity and legalizing the interstate transport of hemp and hemp products in all 50 states. The U.S. Hemp Crop Report highlighted more than 77,000 acres of hemp were cultivated by 3,500 licensed participants last year across the nation. A research analyst report pointed to the global hemp market could grow from $800 million in 2019 to $22 billion by 2022. There are multiple public and commercial benefits to breeding a strain of hemp that will produce a flower with high CBD and low THC content, including increased yield and improved product consistency. Industrial hemp has a wide range of uses from food, fiber, biofuels and bioplastics and future opportunities with more selective traits identified through breeding.
Industrial hemp is among the fastest-growing categories in the natural food industry. The hemp seed-based food product segment accounted for the major share of hemp-based foods market during 2017. The hemp seed is a rich source of Omega-3 and Omega-6 essential fatty acids, a highly-digestible protein, and naturally-occurring vitamins and minerals, such as vitamin E and iron. The excellent source of dietary fiber, the hemp seed is also a complete protein with all ten essential amino acids, with no enzyme inhibitors, making it more digestible by the human body.
“Hemp oil is very similar to the chemicals created by our own bodies and it is integrated better than many synthetic drugs. Clinical studies have demonstrated many benefits of hemp including the treatment of pain, insomnia, anxiety and seizure disorders,” said Patricia A. Hurford MD, MS Spine, Orthopedics And Rehabilitation (S.O.A.R.). “As a physician, I realize that understanding the genetic diversity of the hemp crop will help us cultivate plants that can improve the health and wellness of my patients.”