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The National Industrial Hemp Council (NIHC) sent a letter to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Nov. 3, urging the federal agency to approve hemp as an animal feed ingredient.

In the letter, the NIHC referenced a virtual webinar it co-hosted with the American Association of Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) on Aug. 9 that covered the steps required to approve hemp as an animal feed ingredient.

Government agencies, veterinarians, university researchers and hemp advocates attended the webinar, which “demonstrated great interest and approval of the potential of hemp as a nutritious feed source for livestock,” NIHC officials wrote.

“Part of our mission has been to promote the safe and efficient use of hemp-based animal feed for livestock. The US agribusiness is struggling with a global grain shortage that is a direct result of the war in Ukraine. According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), this has resulted in a direct 16 percent increase in inputs for all domestic ranchers since last year,” the NIHC’s letter said.

“In our view, there is no reason why the FDA has not already approved hemp seed-based animal feed ingredients,” added NIHC officials. “We have seen numerous clinical studies from Land Grant Universities and others submitted to the FDA all showing the same finding, which is that cannabinoids do not enter the country’s food supply chain from animals raised on hemp seed meal. These results are consistent across different animal species, including laying hens, swine and dairy cattle.”

Officials noted that NIHC understands the FDA’s concerns about cannabinoids entering the country’s food supply; However, it stated that it “advocates feeding hemp seeds to animals, which may contain cannabinoids.”

“The distinction should be made clear to policymakers: Hemp seeds are biologically incapable of producing cannabinoids,” the NIHC’s letter reads.

In addition, NIHC officials pointed out that the FDA has already approved hemp seed products such as hearts, oils, and protein powder for human consumption.

“We believe that the current FDA-CVM (Center for Veterinary Medicine) concerns about cannabinoids, which are only quantifiable in parts per billion or even parts per trillion in animal residues, are not a safety issue, but rather an unnecessary scrutiny,” they wrote NIHC officials.

The council added that it believes the issue of cannabinoids in hemp seeds was already addressed when the US Drug Enforcement Agency announced earlier this year that seeds containing no more than 0.3% THC were uncontrolled and legal.

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“This should be a clear signal not only to farmers and consumers, but also to the FDA that hemp seed is a safe food ingredient for livestock use,” wrote the NIHC. “We are willing to work with your agency to provide American-made hemp seed as a viable feed alternative for ranchers and American consumers struggling to control increased food prices due to higher inputs and inflation.”


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