The Hemp Industries Association (HIA) is a supporting organization of the International Year of Natural Fibers (IYNF) 2009, a program of the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) of the United Nations. The public awareness campaign gets underway officially in Rome on Jan. 22, 2009, the beginning of a year-long series of events across the globe that will seek to support farmers and associated industries in raising awareness of the benefits of natural fibers over synthetic and petroleum-based textiles, which are not viewed as sustainable.
Industrial hemp has been grown for thousands of years to make fiber for clothing, furniture, ropes, sails and much more. As an agricultural crop, hemp is beneficial because it can readily be grown organically because it does not require the use of harsh chemical herbicides, pesticides and defoliants. Most hemp textiles today come from China, but it continues to be grown for textiles in Eastern Europe and for other fiber uses around the globe. Hemp is currently not permitted to be grown in the United States, due to federal authorities’ legal confusion of the plant’s varieties. (Oilseed and fiber varieties of hemp are not psychoactive and cannot be grown as a drug-producing crop.)