On a Standard of Identity for Primary Hempseed Products

Comments of Richard Rose on the Proposed
Standard of Identity for Primary Hempseed Products

ASTM Subcommittee D.37.91 is considering primary hemp product standards of identity. The following is in reference to “hempseed” (one word) for technical uses and “hemp seed” (two words) for sowing uses.

For decades, “hempseed” has been the existing convention to differentiate the use of the seed of the Cannabis plant for purposes such as food and for pressing or shelling, from the use of the seed for planting. “Hemp seed” has long meant its use as a planting seed for cultivation. It’s a crucial differentiation to make, and thus has had wide acceptance in both academia and industry since the 1990s.

The rise in the use of the term “hempseed” as the non-planting or technical use of the seed of the Cannabis plant correlates to the rise of its use in modern food production. Previous to 1994, the seed was used mostly for pressing industrial oil, birdseed and fodder. But starting around that year, hempseed became the basis for a number of sophisticated dry, perishable and frozen branded foods for human consumption, distributed in thousands of stores across North America. It was the first major change in the industrial use of Hemp in 12,000 years, and revolutionized the nascent Hemp industry. Today shelled hempseed is 90% of Hemp in Canada and Hemp’s first billion dollar segment, in only 27 years.

There is substantial academic and industry consensus of the nomenclature “hempseed “ as the convention for seed for food, it was used as far back as 1992 and as recent as 2020. Here are examples, emphasis added, presented in reverse chronology:

1) “The Seed of Industrial Hemp (Cannabis sativa L.): Nutritional Quality and Potential Functionality for Human Health and Nutrition” (Farinon et al, 29 June 2020) mentions “hempseed” 663 times, including:
“Abstract: Hempseeds, the edible fruits of the Cannabis sativa L. plant, were initially considered a by-product of the hemp technical fibre industry. Nowadays, following the restorationing [sic] of the cultivation of C. sativa L. plants containing an amount of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) <0.3% or 0.2% (industrial hemp) there is a growing interest for the hempseeds production due to their high nutritional value and functional features. The goal of this review is to examine the scientific literature concerning the nutritional and functional properties of hempseeds. Furthermore, we revised the scientific literature regarding the potential use of hempseeds and their derivatives as a dietary supplement for the prevention and treatment of inflammatory and chronic-degenerative diseases on animal models and humans too. In the first part of the work, we provide information regarding the genetic, biochemical, and legislative aspects of this plant that are, in our opinion essential to understand the difference between ‘industrial’ and ‘drug-type’ hemp. In the final part of the review, the employment of hempseeds by the food industry as livestock feed supplement and as ingredient to enrich or fortify daily foods has also revised. Overall, this review intends to encourage further and comprehensive investigations about the adoption of hempseeds in the functional foods field.
Keywords: THC; Cannabis sativa L. legislation; hempseed oil; hempseed proteins; hempseed minerals; antinutritional compounds; phenylpropionammides;”

2) The “Common Position of the Industrial Hemp Sector on the Single Convention and the International Drug Control System” (EIHA participant, 2020) mentions it once, for a food use.

3) “The Future of Fiber” (HempToday, EIHA 2020 Special Edition) mentions food uses of “hempseed” 16 times.

4) “Hemp, a Real Green Deal” (EIHA, 2020) mentions food uses of “hempseed” 11 times.

5) “The HempNut Book” (Rose, 2020) mentions food uses of “hempseed” 92 times.

6) “EIHA presentation on Hemp Extracts” (2019) by Lorenza Romanese (EIHA Managing Director) and Daniel Kruse (EIHA President) mentions food uses of “hempseed” 10 times.

7) “A Matter of History” by EIHA (HempToday/EIHA 2019 Special Edition) mentions a food use of “hempseed.”

8) U.S. FDA’s GRN-765 2018 GRAS approval for use of the seed in human food states “hempseed” 32 times.

9) “EIHA statement on recommendations of the 40th ECDD on Cannabidiol and contribution to the 41st ECDD Critical reviews of Cannabis-related substances” (EIHA, 2018) mentions a food use of “hempseed.”

10) In Dr. Small’s “Cannabis: A Complete Guide” (Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, 2017) “hempseed” is mentioned 268 times including:
“‘Hemp’ usually refers to C. sativa plants used for fiber and also is the term employed for the fiber obtained from the stalk (i.e., the main stem). (As discussed next, when hemp is grown for oilseed, it is distinguished as ‘oilseed hemp’ or ‘hempseed.’)”

11) In “Dwarf Germplasm: The Key To Giant Cannabis Hempseed And Cannabinoid Crops,” (2017) Dr. Small specifically uses “hempseed” 15 times in order to differentiate from “hemp seed,” as technical seed for processing, especially into foods and oils.

12) The “EIHA 2017 Special Edition” (Hemp Today, 2017) mentions food uses of “hempseed” 3 times.

13) In HIA v DEA “Petitioners’ Motion For Order To Show Cause Why Respondent Drug Enforcement Administration Should Not Be Found In Contempt Of Court For Failure To Comply With This Court’s Injunction” (Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, 2017) HIA mentions food uses of “hempseed” 6 times.

14) In Industrial Hemp in North America: Production, Politics and Potential (Cherney and Small, 2016) Dr. Small uses the term for food 48 times, such as:
“Seed from industrial hemp is commonly referred to as ‘hempseed’, and the oilseed industry typically refers to the fixed vegetable oil extracted from hempseed as ‘hempseed oil’. Hempseed oil is distinguished from aromatic essential oils distilled from hemp inflorescences and/or foliage, and from ‘hash oil’, an extremely concentrated intoxicating more or less tarry preparation from high-THC strains. Although commonly referred to as a ‘seed’, the fruiting body of hemp is an achene, i.e., a fruit containing a seed. Hulling (i.e., removing the hull) from a hemp achene effectively removes the pericarp, leaving the true seed.”

15) “Relationship between cannabinoids content and composition of fatty acids in hempseed oils” (Food Chemistry, 2015) mentions food uses of “hempseed” 31 times.

16) “Multiple Ingredient fixed Oil Products – Oral” (Health Canada, 2015) mentions food uses of “hempseed” 8 times.

17) In “Proposing guidance values for THC levels in hemp food” (EIHA, 2015) is: “Hempseeds are particularly sought after due to their high content of Omega’s 3 and 6, at an exquisite balance for human well-being, along with highly digestible proteins comprised of all essential amino acids in a balanced ratio that satisfies the protein dietary needs of adults.”

18) EIHA’s “Scientifically Sound Guidelines for THC in Food and Feed,” (nova-Institute, 2015) mentions food uses of “hempseed” 5 times.

19)Cannabis Evolution and Ethnobotany” (Clarke and Merlin, 2013) mentions food uses of “hempseed” 307 times.

20) In “The European Industrial Hemp Association (EIHA) Report on Industrial Hemp” (EIHA, 2010) regarding the company of EIHA’s current President: “And, by the way, Hempro International is the only German producer and main distributor of Hemp products that is able to hull the hempseed, botanically correctly classified as a nut, from its thin pericarp.

21) “Hempseed Oil” (Callaway and Pate, AOCS, 2009) mentions food uses of “hempseed” 268 times.

22) “National Industrial Hemp Strategy” (Agri-Food Canada, 2008) mentions food uses of “hempseed” 30 times.

23) EIHA Chairman Daniel Kruse of Hempro International presented “Hempseed as food raw material in Europe” at the EIHA-Konferenz in 2006.

24) “Efficacy Of Dietary Hempseed Oil In Patients With Atopic Dermatitis” (Callaway et al, 2005) mentions food uses of “hempseed” 56 times.

25) “Hempseed as a nutritional resource: An overview” (Callaway, 2004) mentions food uses of “hempseed” 77 times.

26) “The HempNut Cookbook” (Mars and Rose, 2004) mentions food uses of “hempseed” 589 times.

27) “Hemp: A New Crop with New Uses for North America” (Small, 2002) mentions food uses of “hempseed” 29 times.

28) In HIA v DEA “Memorandum In Support Of Respondents’ Opposition To Petitioners’ Emergency Motion For A Stay” (Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, 2002), HIA mentions food uses of “hempseed” 19 times.

29) “Clarification of Listing of ‘Tetrahydrocannabinols’ in Schedule I” (Federal Register, 2001) on which HIA sued DEA mentions food uses of “hempseed” 5 times.

30) In “HIA letter to DEA re: Topicals and Interpretive Rule” (Sandler, 2001) mentions food uses of “hempseed” 7 times.

31) In HIA’s letter to DEA “Re: Comments on Proposed Rule, Clarification of Listing of ‘Tetrahydrocannabinols’ in Schedule I” (Sandler, 2001), HIA mentions food uses of “hempseed” 11 times.

32) In his letter to many government officials “Re: DEA Interpretive Rule Banning Hemp Foods/Oils” (Bronner, 2000) HIA patron and President of Dr Bronner’s mentions food uses of “hempseed” 5 times, and it is used on labels of his commercial food, Alpsnack.

33) “The HempNut Health and Cookbook” (Mars and Rose, 2000, ISBN 0-966-2930-0-2) mentions food uses of “hempseed” 488 times. The following is from the Glossary in that book.
De-fatted hempseed meal: the best descriptive term for the presscake by-product of hempseed oil extraction. Sometimes called ‘hemp flour’ or ‘hemp meal.’ Usually contains 2/3 less essential fatty acids than whole hempseed, but more protein and fiber. Apparently it is gluten-free and has been approved by the Celiac Society as a safe ingredient for celiacs. Some say chickens grow larger and cows refuse to eat substitutes after this is taken out of their diet. Brewers use it to make ‘hemp beer’ as a flavorant. Popular with manufacturers because of its very low cost.
De-hulled hempseed: same as shelled hempseed or hulled hempseed, see below.
Fractured hempseed: Whole hempseed that is run through an impact sheller, then not screened or sieved but simply packaged and sold. It is a simple way to comply with USDA requirements regarding sterilization. Innovated by Canadian companies.
Hempseed: the seed of the plant Cannabis. Actually not a true seed, but an “achene,” a term for a tiny fruit covered by a hard shell. Called Hanfsamen in German, graine de chanvre in French, hennep samen in Nederlandse (Dutch), and ma zi in China. Sometimes written as its popular lay spelling ‘hemp seed,’ much as soybean was earlier called ‘soy bean’ and ‘soya bean.’ While the hempseed has long been used as a source of food, its potential health contribution has never gained much attention until recently. Hempseed shares with no other plant both a high content of easily-digestible complete protein as well as a rich source of oil providing a favorable ratio of the linoleic and linolenic essential fatty acids required for good human nutrition, as well as a significant contribution of gamma-linolenic acid.
Shelled hempseed: whole hempseed with the hard outer shell removed, leaving only the ‘fruit.’ The term was coined and the product innovated by HempNut, Inc., who has a patent pending for their version of a revolutionary new shelling technique. Current technology is to feed the seed into an impact sheller, then sift and screen the fractured hempseed output in order to remove the testa, shells, and fragments of shells and kernels. This technique results in some loss of kernel, and breakage of the shell making removal difficult. Takes from 2½ to 5 pounds of whole hempseed to make 1 pound of shelled hempseed. Also called ‘hulled hempseed’ or ‘de-hulled hempseed.’
Technical hempseed: A term for hempseed which will not be planted, but rather will be used for oil, food, or other use.”

34) In the Hemp Farming and Commerce Report (HFCR, 2000) food uses of “hempseed” is mentioned 33 times.

35) “The Hemp Cookbook: From Seed to Shining Seed” (Dalotto, 1999) mentions food uses of “hempseed” 517 times.

36) “Use Of Industrial Hemp As A Novel Food” (Australia New Zealand Food Authority Final Assessment Report, 1998) mentions food uses of “hempseed” 96 times.

37) “Industrial Hemp Technical Manual” (Health Canada, 1998) mentions food uses of “hempseed” 5 times.

38) It’s even in the very title, as far back as 1992, of “Industrial hemp technical manual: TPP-BDS-004 – Basic method for determination of THC in hempseed oil” (Health Protection Branch, Health Canada, 1992); as well as “Analytical Characterization of Hempseed (Seed of Cannabis sativa L.) Oil from Eight Regions in China” (J. Diet Suppl. 2010), and many other studies.

39) In its press release “Hemp Industries Association Sues DEA Over Illegal Attempt to Regulate Hemp Foods as Schedule I Drugs” HIA mentions “hempseed” 4 times including “The DEA must stop treating hemp, hempseed and hempseed oil, which is a nutritious ingredient, as something illicit.” At https://thehia.org/Hemp-Legal-HIA-vs-DEA HIA mentions it once, and the HIA 2019 Voter Guide mentions “hempseed” twice.

The Codex Alimentarius provides numerous nomenclature precedents for the use of “hempseed” as the common name for food hempseed:

EIHA started as a hemp fibre association in Germany, and in German the term is “Hanfsamen” to describe the seed of the hemp plant, one word just like “hempseed.” Nutiva, Manitoba Harvest, Living Harvest, Evo Hemp, and Hemp Oil Canada have all used “hempseed” on their packaging in the past.

FAOSTAT, the Statistics Division of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations which tracks the production and movement of commodities around the world, uses “hempseed”.

INDUSTRIAL HEMP: GLOBAL MARKETS AND PRICES (1997) by Valerie L. Vantreese in the Department of Agricultural Economics at University of Kentucky uses “hempseed” 32 times.

There are 4,523 English-language patents mentioning “hempseed”, the oldest is entitled IMPROVEMENT IN TANNING, U.S. Patent No. 27,823 dated April 10, 1860. Second-oldest is IMPROVEMENT IN TRUSS-PADS, U.S. Patent No. 41,749 dated March 1, 1864.

This is how hempseed for birdseed was imported into the U.S., 3,000 tons/year until it abruptly terminated in 1999. U.S. Customs data used “hempseed”:
DIALOG(R)File 573:Piers Imports (US Ports)
(c) 1996 Journal of Commerce. All rts. reserv.
Product Imported: CHINESE HEMPSEED
Product Code: 1264100 (BULB & SEED; FIELD,FLOWER,GRASS,VEG)
Weight of Cargo: 103770 POUNDS
Number of Units of Cargo: 690 BAGS
Date of Arrival (YY/MM/DD): 940908
Company Location: NA, NA (NA)
Company Location: PORTLAND, OR
Point of Origin: DARIEN (57051), CHINA P (570)
U.S. Port of Discharge: TACOMA (3002)

I also have older (1920-1940) references to “hempseed” from the Soyinfo Center. There’s a ton of academic and industry precedent for hempseed as one word.

“Hemp Grain” doesn’t get us very far, as it won’t be used on the ingredient panel or as the mandatory common and usual name. It’ll be a general catch-all term, since it’s not actually accurate or descriptive. That’s why I call it hemp “marklar,” for the South Park episode wherein The Marklar are an intelligent species of identical aliens who refer to all people, places, and things as “Marklar.”

This is a good example of why such a technical subject is best left to those who deal extensively in the subject matter. It happened before in 2001 when fibre group HIA had six lawyers doing a dog and pony show trying to talk the members into signing off on what was eventually a $200,000 legal bill. Ironically, they were desperate to stop DEA from legalizing hemp products with no max THC, even though none of them actually had the burden of compliance. One guy stood up holding a child and said she should have as much a vote in the matter as the person whose vision started it and who invested $2.5 million and 8 years of work to realize that vision, which was so compelling it inspired today’s companies to jump in.

Their “Manufacturing Dissent” worked, suing DEA is a hempster’s wet dream. Unfortunately, it killed the hemp food industry in the U.S. for 2-1/2 years and almost took Canadian hemp down with it. It rewarded the bad players and penalized the good ones, all for an additional 1/2 ppm THC allowance. None of the Americans had any burden of compliance as they all purchased product after it was imported, and the one with the greatest burden of compliance was dead-set against the suit later called “gratuitous” by one of the Justices, who refused to join the majority. DEA tossed us a bone and got sued for it, they learned their lesson as we see today in how uncooperative they are with the hemp industry.

Clearly there is a long history of use of “hempseed” over “hemp seed” for the seed of Cannabis not for planting, based on the early work and vision of the first academics, regulators, and food professionals in the hemp food sector, especially Small, Callaway, Clarke, Dalotto, Rose, and Health Canada. It also conforms to the Codex standard for other seeds.

I bring a unique POV to the discussion, having considered this issue for literally decades as well as my previous work in soyfoods and standards. While various organizations involved in hemp may not object to “hemp seed” over “hempseed,” none have a specific food focus, nor do they have any members in the food industry for over 40 years as I have been.

As you can see above both EIHA and HIA have long used “hempseed” for food uses of the seed. Many of the other hemp associations are quite new and composed mostly of lobbyists and lawyers, not food professionals. Even at HIA, as a Director I was the founder and first Chair of the Food and Oil Committee in the 1990s, and brought skeptical fibre people to accept hempseed as a legitimate product suitable for the modern commercial food industry.

My view is informed by the years helping pioneer the hempseed foods industry in North America starting in 1994, providing the first proof-of-concept and business models for shelled hempseed, and its best practices and nomenclature. As Director and Treasurer I helped give Hemp Industries Association legitimacy in its early years and get on its feet, and started the Hemp Food Association in 1998 with over 40 members globally, as well as another a handful of other hemp trade associations.

Over the years I mentored many in the hemp food space, applied my established perishable food international sales and distribution network to make hemp foods a commercial success, and have many firsts in the industry including the first three hemp industry awards for food, and the first perishable hemp foods. My investment to make hemp foods a success exceeded $2.5 million in the years 1994-2002, when I retired due to the death for years of the hemp food market.

The effect of putting these decisions in the hands of those with no burden of compliance, bad ideas gain agency and complex ones are incomprehensible to those not in the business. It almost permanently killed-off the infant hemp foods segment and almost did the same to the nascent Canadian hemp industry.

Starting in 1996 I developed this nomenclature, and having already help develop standards of identity for soyfoods in the 1980s I understood the evolution of the archaic “soya bean” to today’s “soybean.” Thus I knew eventually “hemp seed” would become “hempseed” and that this issue would one day come up for an emerging industry segment, the divergence of technical and planting seed. That day is today. That’s why I codified then the nomenclature in two books on the subject (2000 and 2004), and it was subsequently adopted by most if not all competitors.

As a food processing professional since 1980, no doubt I do not share the same point of view as lobbyists, lawyers, and fibre groups. While it may be a minor issue to most, I’ve been invested, figuratively and literally, in right outcomes in this space for 27 years.

Nomenclature should clarify and not obfuscate. That’s what technical language is for, after all, differentiation as clear as possible with as few words as possible. Knowingly building confusion into standard terms is not logical or helpful. Having to always clarify which application the seed is for, planting or all other uses, will be the result of using “hemp seed” to mean both uses, or “hempseed” to mean planting seed and “hemp seed” for technical seed.

Some cultures have 30 words just for snow. It’s better to add an additional precise word to the lexicon, especially when it has a vastly different meaning. This is a practical consideration that needs to be part of the discussion. Is that not the whole point of standards of identity… clarity and specificity?

Richard Rose, January 2021

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