Pyxus Inks Deal with Cornell U to Study Hemp Cultivation

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Pyxus International Inc. (NYSE: PYX), a Morrisville-based global agricultural company, has signed an agreement with Cornell University's College of Agriculture and Life Sciences to fill a gap in hemp cultivation knowledge.

The deal will fund research into cultivating hemp to produce cannabidiol (CBD) and other cannabinoids. 

"Hemp production manuals already exist for grain and fiber; however, equivalent science-based information on hemp production for natural, plant-based cannabinoids and CBD is entirely lacking," said Cornell University's professor of plant breeding and genetics, Larry Smart. 

"Through our partnership with Pyxus, we will build the knowledge base to help the industry make informed decisions that are backed by research to ensure a stable supply of hemp to U.S. processors, and improve the livelihoods of our farmers."

Both marijuana and hemp come from the cannabis family, but hemp is restricted to having less than 0.3 percent THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana. CBD oil, extracted from hemp, is used to relieve pain and anxiety, among other ailments. The only cannabidiol drug approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, however, is for Epidiolex, used to treat two rare, severe forms of epilepsy.

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, at least 47 states have enacted legislation to establish industrial hemp cultivation and production programs. Additionally, the Brightfield Group, a leading predictive analytics and market research firm for the legal CBD and cannabis industries, has stated that the demand for hemp-derived products, like CBD, will continue to increase, with the market expected to experience a compound annual growth rate of 147 percent.

NC has 634 licensed hemp farmers, 413 licensed hemp processors

During a two-year pilot program, hemp production soared in North Carolina. The state currently has 634 licensed farmers growing hemp on about 8,000 acres and 3.4 million square feet of greenhouse space. There are 413 licensed hemp processors statewide.

The Pyxus and Cornell University research project will last multiple years with the first year of research focusing on accomplishing four objectives meant to educate both growers and landowners. 

The objectives include:

  • Evaluating and comparing commercially available cultivars of hemp grown for CBD;

  • Conducting a detailed study of cannabinoid production over the course of the plant's floral development;

  • Observing the effects of controlled stress treatments on cannabinoid levels;

  • Extending knowledge of CBD hemp cultivars and cannabinoid accumulation to growers.

Beyond providing growers and processors with valuable data and insight, the research coming out of this partnership may also be used by consumers to help them understand hemp and CBD, Pyxus said.

"Pyxus is dedicated to advancing the cultivation of hemp," said Bryan Mazur, executive vice president of Global Specialty Products at Pyxus International, in announcing the deal. "We are eager to learn from Cornell's expertise and research in the field and are excited that this partnership will eventually be part of an even larger Pyxus initiative with additional partners and resources."

Allan Maurer, NCBiotech Writer
Wed, 08/28/2019 - 15:12