Taranto is a coastal port city in southern Italy known for its oil refineries, steel plants and its pollution. Soon, farmers hope, the town that declared bankruptcy in 2006 will be known for a cannabis. Industrial hemp, to be precise.
The city, considered the third most polluted city in the world, is placing its hopes on hemp in order to to remove contaminants from the soil. That’s right: Taranto will be utilizing the properties of the hemp plant as an environmental measure.
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According to a CBS News report, the city wants to replace industrial plants with another kind of plant: Hemp.
“For generations, our family produced ricotta and meat,” Vincenzo Fornaro told CBS News. But, according to the report, contaminants spewing from a local massive steel plant contaminated the grazing land. All grazing is banned within 12 miles of the ILVA steel plant after the Italian government declared the area an environmental risk area.
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In order to save the environment — and the livelihood of the local citizens — hemp has been introduced to clean up the land.
From the CBS report:
The science is called phytoremediation — a process where contaminants are absorbed by the fast-growing roots of the cannabis plant which stores or, in some cases, transforms toxins into a harmless substance.
This is certainly not the first time the plant has been used to in environmental disasters. Following the Chernobyl nuclear accident, hemp was farmed to remove radioactive strontium and cesium.
Industrial hemp contains trace amounts — less than 1 percent – of THC, the psychoactive ingredient found in marijuana. That infinitesimal amount of THC has no narcotic effect. Despite this fact, hemp remains a Schedule I controlled substance under the Federal Controlled Substances Act.
But the federal government has allowed 17 states test growing hemp, according to the National Hemp Association. More than 30 countries, including China, Canada and most of Europe, farm hemp for industrial use.