22nd Century Group, Inc. (NYSE:XXII) has formed a partnership with The University of Virginia to utilize specially developed varieties of industrial hemp to restore former mining lands and other polluted areas in Southwest Virginia through a process known as phytoremediation.
What is phytoremediation?
The process of using living plants for removal, degradation or containment of contaminants in soil, mud or water is known as phytoremediation. Hemp's deep roots make it especially suited for phytoremediation. Historically, hemp plants have been successfully used to restore polluted areas following the nuclear incidents at Chernobyl, Ukraine and Fukushima, Japan.
22nd Century has developed hemp plants that have rapid growth rates and an improved ability to absorb pollutants, making them highly suited for phytoremediation.
The Problem...and a Solution
In Virginia and other areas with a history of coal mining, vast stretches of land were left with compacted and polluted soil. Phytoremediation is increasingly being seen as an option to restore the more than 30,000 sites across the U.S. that have been damaged by mining and other environmentally damaging activities. Beyond just investigating the benefits to soil, 22nd Century will be seeking out other uses of their phytoremediation hemp plants including the production of fiber, oils and more.
22nd Century's Vice President for Plant Biotechnology, Dr. Paul Rushton, had this to say about the partnership:
“Our phytoremediation-optimized varieties of industrial hemp will open up new and lucrative markets for 22nd Century. We are enthusiastic about the prospect of applying our biotechnology expertise to a challenging environmental problem. We see phytoremediation as an opportunity for 22nd Century to do very well… by doing good for the Earth.”
UVA's principal scientific investigator, Dr. Michael Timko, also expressed optimism regarding the partnership:
“We are very excited about using 22nd Century’s industrial hemp plants for land reclamation in Southwest Virginia, where years of poor land management practices and industrial mining have devastated soil quality and fertility. This is also a tremendous opportunity to partner with UVA-Wise where Dr. Ryan Huish and his colleagues have been studying the problems of mining land reclamation. Industrial hemp farming provides a new approach to not only rejuvenating the land but also the local economy in key portions of the Commonwealth of Virginia.”
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