a truly versatile plant, with many potential benefits that could improve the
quality of human life. In this issue of the JIHA, we explore the
terpenoid compounds of Cannabis and their use as fragrances and
flavorings, the role of Cannabis as a repellent and pesticide, the
occurrence of THC in hempseed oil, and in our interview, new concepts concerning
the biosynthesis of the medically valuable cannabinoids. Research and crop
reports cover Australia, Canada, Germany, Hungary, Russia, Slovenia, Spain,
Switzerland, the Ukraine, Yugoslavia and the United Kingdom. How can we hope to
utilize Cannabis to its full potential, investigate its future uses, and
produce crops in so many parts of the world, without proper varieties for each
usage and location? Cannabis breeders must rely on living genetic
collections to create future varieties. Unfortunately, due to human population
growth, commercial pressures and police suppression, genetic variation in Cannabis
is threatened worldwide, and Cannabis seeds are rarely included in
the world’s gene banks.
1998 will be the sixth and final year of the Vavilov Research Institute/International Hemp Association (VIR/IHA) Cannabis Germplasm Preservation Project. When the project was begun in 1993, we planned to reproduce, for the purposes of genetic maintenance and distribution, all of the nearly 400 Cannabis accessions contained in the VIR Gene Bank in a four year program. Unforeseen difficulties with low seed germination, small population sizes and theft by field intruders have resulted in lowered seed yields and the loss of some entire reproductions. As a result, the project was continued for a fifth year in 1997 (see pg. 100), and we hope to finally complete the reproductions in 1998.
In order to efficiently preserve the freshly reproduced accessions, they are sealed in foil pouches and frozen in a deep freezer for long term storage. The working collection is stored in refrigerated cold rooms. If seed accessions are not stored at low temperatures, they must be grown out every three to four years, so the need for reproductions would never end. In the future, resources should be allocated for collecting new accessions to add to the collection and for reproducing only a few critical accessions, rather than to continually reproduce the entire collection.
The future of the Vavilov Research Institute/International Hemp Association Cannabis Germplasm Preservation Project is uncertain, as no funding has yet been committed for the final year of reproductions in 1998. The projected budget for 1998 is approximately US$20,000 to complete the reproductions and get them into proper storage. If you wish to participate in completing this important project, or if you have any suggestions for additional financing, please contact the IHA as soon as possible, so that we can begin plans for next year.
|Hayo van der Werf