ASHEVILLE, N.C. (September 23, 2019) – U.S. Botanical Safety Laboratory (USBSL) focuses on botanical identity, purity and compositional testing services, and is poised to become a regional asset for Western North Carolina’s growing hemp businesses by providing local botanical testing services for industrial hemp growers and processors. USBSL is a program of the Bent Creek Institute, an independent 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation that operates in partnership with The North Carolina Arboretum. With the assistance of a generous donation from the Dana Stonestreet Donor-Advised Fund of the Community Foundation of Western North Carolina, USBSL recently acquired new analytical testing equipment that will facilitate rapid testing for cannabinoid (CBD) profiles (potency). Other testing services for hemp growers will include analysis of important safety and quality parameters, such as pesticides, heavy metals and microbiological purity.
“We are especially excited to help farmers understand what they have in their fields so that they can maximize their yields of CBD and other beneficial cannabinoids without exceeding the legal 0.3% THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) limit, the primary psychoactive component of hemp,” explained Amanda Vickers, director of USBSL. “Ensuring that hemp crops remain compliant is crucial to the prevention of unnecessary crop destruction. Likewise, the continued development of safe, sophisticated and effective consumer products is vital to the success of the industry as a whole. We are excited to be the first organization to offer this service locally to Western North Carolina industrial hemp growers.”
“As part of its economic development mission, The North Carolina Arboretum has long focused on supporting and growing the natural products sector,” according to George Briggs, executive director of the Arboretum and chair of the Bent Creek Institute board of directors. “This important form of botanical authentication by USBSL not only assists growers and farmers with meeting industrial hemp compliance standards, but also provides a viable pathway toward a new “golden leaf” to replace the loss of tobacco jobs and income in North Carolina.
The development of USBSL’s unique testing methodology is being led by Dr. Matthew Robison, director of research and development at USBSL. Dr. Robison draws from a diverse scientific background ranging from fiber technologies to diatom genomics, and has been working with USBSL in natural products research since 2015. Using gas chromatography (GC) for the differentiation of both acidic and neutral forms of target cannabinoids, this unique methodology is of particular interest to floral hemp crop farmers as acidic forms are more prevalent in the raw plant. USBSL worked with N.C. State University’s Mountain Horticultural Crops Research and Extension Center in Mills River, N.C. to obtain samples from the center’s hemp field trial research program. Under the direction of Dr. Jeanine Davis, this program conducted field trials for the past two years to accelerate grower knowledge of the effects of genetics, harvest time and environmental conditions on select quality parameters in their floral crops. USBSL’s new testing services will help in data generation for these field trials.
Based in Asheville in The North Carolina Arboretum’s Germplasm Laboratory, USBSL offers botanical testing and product development services for cosmetic, dietary supplement and other natural products around the world. In addition, the company is a registered hemp processor with in-house analytical equipment. Due to its close proximity to WNC growers, USBSL will be able to offer rapid turnaround times and local sample drop-off that will allow growers to make crucial decisions on harvest timing based on comparatively real-time analyses.
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“Many labs often operate with a large backlog of samples, especially during harvest season, which occurs in late September and early October. This can cause growers to have to wait for weeks to get test results while their crops are still in the fields and vulnerable to threats such as insect pests, mold, and spiking THC levels,” shared Vickers. “As a local, non-biased third-party provider, we can better position growers to make smart decisions, quicker.”
USBSL will begin accepting samples of dried hemp flowers on Monday September 23, 2019, with results available on a rolling basis. Official turnaround times and additional add-on services will be announced thereafter. Farmers wishing to submit hemp flower for analysis may call (828) 333-5124 and ask to speak with Laboratory Director Rolando Boye for sample submission assistance.
Official hemp testing will begin on Friday, October 4, and USBSL will be hosting a small private event at its laboratory to mark this exciting occasion.
About USBSL US Botanical Safety Lab is a project of Bent Creek Institute, Inc., a non-profit economic accelerator founded in collaboration with The North Carolina Arboretum. In 2012, Bent Creek Institute launched USBSL with support from the Golden Leaf Foundation, and in collaboration with the BioNetwork Natural Products Lab, A-B Tech Community College, Blue Ridge Food Ventures, the David H. Murdoch Research Institute and The North Carolina Arboretum Germplasm Repository. USBSL began as a way to tie together the unique abilities of each of these organizations in order to create “one-stop shopping” solutions in botanical product testing and formulation for companies looking to demonstrate the top quality of their medicinal and herbal crops, supplements, foods, and body care products grown and made in Western North Carolina. For more information, visit www.usbsl.org.
About The North Carolina Arboretum
Each year more than 500,000 visitors experience the Arboretum’s gardens, trails, exhibits and plant shows, educational programs and lectures. The Arboretum’s ability to meet its mission and enrich the visitor experience is made possible by a community of supporting resources – from members, volunteers and staff to state and local funds, special events, tribute gifts, grants and community partners.
The central mission of The North Carolina Arboretum, an affiliate institution of the 17-campus University of North Carolina System, is to cultivate connections among people, plants and places. A standard $14 per vehicle parking fee is required for non-members. Special events and after-hours activities may require additional fees. For more information, please call (828) 665-2492 or visit www.ncarboretum.org.