Oregon State University’s new hemp center has received an infusion of cash from two local hemp pioneers with OSU ties.
The university’s Global Hemp Innovation Center, which was unveiled in June, has received a $1 million gift from Oregon CBD, a hemp seed research and development company started by OSU graduates Seth Crawford and Eric Crawford.
The money will be used by the OSU center to explore hemp genomics in hopes that the research can increase understanding of how hemp may be used in health and nutrition products, textiles and construction materials.
“There is a tremendous amount of possibility with hemp and understanding genetics is key,” said Seth Crawford, a former OSU sociology professor who was known statewide for his studies of the economics of marijuana growing in Southern Oregon.
Seth Crawford has degrees in English, public policy and sociology, with a doctorate in the latter. He taught at OSU until June 2016. Brother Eric graduated from OSU with a horticulture degree in which he emphasized environmental science and botany. He worked as a naturalist at Mount Rainier National Park and owned his own landscape architecture firm in the Eugene area before selling it to join forces with Seth at Oregon CBD.
Seth also noted that the family ties to OSU go back farther than he and his brother.
“This also provides us the added satisfaction of giving back to the university that has been a part of my family since my grandfather, Loren Gardner, graduated in 1954,” Seth said.
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The Crawfords have engaged in extensive hemp research on their own, but said they recognize the key role that OSU can play.
“Philosophically, we believe the public land grant university needs to be the epicenter of that research so that all can benefit from the findings,” Seth said. “We believe OSU is the right place to lead this research,”
The gift is the first major private donation the center has received since its launch, and is unique in that it allows scientists to publicly share data and collaborate with others engaged in the study of hemp. The Crawfords are known in Oregon and elsewhere for their willingness to collaborate and assist others with questions about the hemp business.
The Global Hemp Innovation Center was launched in June by OSU’s College of Agricultural Sciences and is the largest, most comprehensive hemp research center in the nation. Led by Jay Noller, a professor of crop and soil science, the center includes faculty from multiple disciplines and colleges across OSU and has a global reach that includes partnerships in four countries.
“We have been overwhelmed by the outpouring of support and interest in our work,” said Noller.
Noller said that while some private sector genomic studies of hemp have taken place, very little information is available publicly for research.
“This investment accelerates our leadership and establishes OSU at the forefront in genomic research in hemp,” said Alan Sams, dean of the College of Agricultural Sciences.