10 pesticides have been approved for industrial use in the U.S. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which is responsible for regulating pesticides in the U.S., made this approval in December 2019. The EPA is responsible for regulating pesticide use as well as training and certifying pesticide applicators.
Pesticides include both herbicides, which destroy weeds, and insecticides, which destroy insects.
Before this, in the U.S. there were no pesticides being deemed safe, and labeled as such, for use with industrial hemp. This created significant challenges for industrial hemp farmers, as the law does not allow farmers to use uncleared pesticides on industrial hemp.
As of now, 10 pesticides have been approved for use with industrial hemp, and the list may be getting longer by the end of the year. Out of the ten, nine are biopesticides and one is a conventional pesticide.
Are Biopesticides Good For Industrial Hemp?
Biopesticides are derived from natural materials as opposed to chemical materials. These natural materials may include remains from plant and animal matter, as well as microorganisms and minerals. Canola oil and baking soda are examples of biopesticides.
Biopesticides have several benefits which include the following:
- They are safer for the environment because they do not contain chemicals
- They only destroy the targeted pest while sparing other organisms, such as microorganisms
- They decompose quickly, which helps them pose less harm to the environment
- They significantly reduce the need for conventional pesticides
When using biopesticides for industrial hemp, it is imperative to follow the label directions carefully.
How Are Pesticides Used on Industrial Hemp?
Pesticides control insects, bacteria, fungi, and nematodes, and are used on industrial hemp in the same way that they are used on similar crops.
For a pesticide to be safely used on industrial hemp, it must be ascertained that the pesticide residue left behind is at a level that is deemed safe by the EPA. This is especially the case when the end product is intended for human consumption.
Atrazine is an herbicide that is commonly used to control weeds in corn, sorghum, and sugarcane. As of now, the EPA has not approved any herbicides for use with industrial hemp. However, it may make an interim decision regarding the use of Atrazine on industrial hemp.
It takes a lot of research to prove the safety and efficacy of a pesticide, and it can take even longer for it to get federal approval.
Can You Use Off-label Pesticides on Industrial Hemp?
It is illegal to use off-label pesticides on industrial hemp. Regardless, some farmers do this to protect their marijuana plants when they cannot access legal pesticides. Farmers have been using off-label pesticides even before the aforementioned ten pesticides were legalized. It is worth noting that doing so may be dangerous for industrial hemp plants, and makes farmers susceptible to a serious penalty from law enforcement.
Is It Safe To Use Pesticides On Industrial Hemp?
While biopesticides may be safe for industrial hemp, conventional pesticides pose a considerable threat to both the plants and the environment as a whole.
Pesticides may remain on the plants after achieving their intended purpose, which is to destroy pests. Subsequently, the pesticide residue will make its way to the industrial hemp end product and create a problem for the consumer.
Several long-term health complications, such as cancer, thyroid problems, and damage to the liver and nervous system, have been linked to the chronic consumption of pesticides. One study by the National Cancer Institute found that chronic pesticide use contributed to increased incidences of different types of cancers in the farming population. Meanwhile in the short-term, the consumption of pesticides may trigger headaches, nausea and vomiting, fatigue, and dizziness.
Are Biopesticides Safer Than Conventional Pesticides?
Biopesticides are safer than conventional pesticides. Consequently, the EPA and other like-minded organizations are rooting for biopesticide use in industrial hemp farming.
How Is Industrial Hemp Tested For Pesticides?
3rd party testing by an independent lab is used to confirm the amount of pesticide residue in industrial hemp extracts.