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The Truth About Hemp: An Interview with Chris Conrad
Chris Conrad exposes the truth behind the myths and lies of hemp.
For centuries, industrial hemp (plant species Cannabis sativa) has been a source of fiber and oilseed manufactured worldwide for a variety of industrial and consumer products. Currently, more than 30 countries cultivate industrial hemp as an agricultural commodity, sold on the market all around the world. However, in the United States, hemp remains strictly regulated under existing drug enforcement laws with no known commercial domestic production, causing the U.S. to depend solely on imports.
Chris Conrad — a court-qualified expert on Cannabis hemp who has been cited in numerous Appellate Decisions and California Supreme Court rulings — exposes the truth behind the myths and lies of hemp. As an internationally recognized guru on all aspects of hemp and the founder of the Business Alliance for Commerce in Hemp, Conrad’s provocative research confronts the political dynamics working for and against legal reform through the uncovering of enlightened hemp facts.
Rita Baldini: Hemp was so important to the colonies of Jamestown that in 1619 the first hemp law was created, making it illegal NOT to grow hemp. Why did our country stray so far away from hemp production?
Chris Conrad: This nation has strayed from many of the original founding principles. Despite their shortcomings, when America was founded much of the philosophy was based upon the idea that a small family farm or homestead could be self-sufficient and live in freedom and independence. In the years leading to the Civil War, industrial capital was just beginning to take hold. After the Civil War, the logging and petrochemical barons rose to power. Around the turn of the 20th century, banks and corporations began to have a disproportionate level of control over the federal government. At the same time, the racism that was inherent in slavery had moved to the front through anti-Mexican bigotry and Jim Crow laws. It was this combination of corporate greed for control and money and social racism that led to the shift away from protecting family farms toward subsidizing corporate wealth.Prohibition was then seen as a two-edged sword cutting into economic freedom and social freedom at the same time. It bloated into an entrenched bureaucratic mechanism, and as a government has mutated into being essentially corporate-run with less and less personal freedom and privacy allowed. Prohibition is growing like a tumorous cancer that is killing society.
The United States is the only industrialized nation that does not grow hemp, yet we are the largest consumer and industrial market for hemp products. What do you attribute this to?
I think that disconnect shows the difference between the people and the politicians. The American people are actually rather interested in preserving the environment and helping farms. We like getting good quality products, sometimes even if the cost is a little more. The American people like natural products and would like to save forests, reduce pollution and promote local financial stability. The politicians are interested in a global corporate economy that puts profits above people and the planet. This is why it's so important for the public to take a stand in defending our freedom and our planet by forcing Obama and the U.S. Congress to end this travesty. Oh, one other thing: by forcing industry to import hemp rather than producing it here, it drives up the cost of hemp products, which is one of the goals of the DEA.
What is your strategy for achieving the legalization of industrial hemp farming? Do you have a specific time frame in mind?
"Prohibition is growing like a tumorous cancer that is killing society."
My strategy was launched in 1989 as the Business Alliance for Commerce in Hemp (BACH). It set specific goals including the restoration of industrial hemp, medical marijuana with a doctor's approval, and regulated access to marijuana for adult personal use. I felt it would be disingenuous to ignore the marijuana issues, and in fact overcoming the bigotry against cannabis and cannabis users was essential to de-stigmatizing and restoring hemp. The fact that hemp has so many positive attributes and that marijuana likewise has important medical and social value make it easy to advocate for all three positions. By separating the issues, we were able to break through the monoliths of zero-tolerance and open people's minds. So I was involved in creating the Hemp Industries Association in 1994, the passage of Proposition 215 in 1996, the case that made the DEA back off of hemp seed products, the drafting of California's "SB 420" medical marijuana law, and worked on Proposition 19 in 2010. It's rather hard to understand why hemp farming is still illegal at all, especially when Pres. Obama could change the whole thing with the stroke of a pen.
Why do you think the voters in California did not pass Proposition 19?
People simply were not ready. The untold story of Prop 19 is that it was never expected to pass. Richard Lee is a real hero who ran a campaign to start the dialogue, and paid a high price for it. Nonetheless, it laid the groundwork for the Colorado and Washington state legalization initiatives that were passed just two years later, with repercussions that are still ringing. So it really was a success — it just did not pass.
What do you see for the future battles between federal and state government in regards to marijuana and hemp legalization?
It's difficult to say. The US government's denial of scientific reality about cannabis has put it in the same position that the Catholic Church held during the dark ages by oppressing the science of astronomy. There are a lot of similarities to the Inquisition, such as the DEA's drug orthodoxy and punitive tactics including property seizure. Our leaders have painted themselves into a corner. The actual answer is relatively simple: issue a presidential order to the DEA to remove marijuana from the drug schedule. The president has that authority and that duty under the Controlled Substance Act. Hemp should be handed to the department of agriculture, and marijuana should be left up to the states under the direction of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms or maybe a new and distinct agency. My hope is that the recent Supreme Court rulings on gay marriage and civil rights that favor state rights is a signal that the Raich decision against medical use could be overturned, because they reinforced the rights of states to make their own laws, such as marriage. They gutted the Voting Rights Act based on societal changes in precisely the way they had told Raich that they had been powerless to do to the Controlled Substances Act. They've basically negated their own logic. That leaves us with a patchwork of state laws and regulations, but when people see firsthand the virtues of the cannabis plant, I am confident that it and its consumers will achieve equal rights.
What will the legalization of industrial hemp farming mean for big businesses like Monsanto and DuPont plastics? Will more jobs be created through the legalization of hemp?
"The US government's denial of scientific reality about cannabis has put it in the same position that the Catholic Church held during the dark ages by oppressing the science of astronomy."
I believe that in the long run, there is room for hemp to coexist with those corporations, toxic as they are. Some of the products they produce are critical for society; however, in the context of environmental degradation they will have to make adjustments. The assimilation of cannabis hemp into the economy and society, likewise, will take time. So there will be a transition, but remember that one of the reasons that hemp lost favor, economically, is that it creates a lot of jobs. Multinational corporations often prefer to use more machines than employees because they focus on profits over people. So if the idea of stimulating the economy means job creation, the next generation will soon demand that Monsanto and DuPont make way for industrial hemp, for their own interests.
Can you give me an in-depth forecast as to what changes will take place if hemp becomes legal? What are some realistic challenges and expectations our country will encounter?
Much of that will depend upon how quickly the changes take place. My preference would be to immediately halt subsidies to toxic industries and remove all barriers to industrial hemp. My sense, however, is that we are going to spend a long time wrangling over THC content and security, and other issues that really don't come into play and shouldn't come into play with an agricultural resource. So, I basically see in the long-term picture. Remember that cannabis hemp seed line development has been completely neglected for the past three quarters of a century, while other plant resources like timber and cotton have had ample opportunity for improvement. Likewise, the manufacturing technologies surrounding hemp still lag far behind. So there is a major infrastructural issue to be resolved. Fortunately, Canada, Europe, and China have all made great strides in past years.
A major challenge is what kind of commitment our government and our economy we are willing to make to preserve the environment for the benefit of posterity. We are riding in the wake of a century and a half of wanton destruction to the Earth's ecosystems. When we talk about the challenge America will face when cannabis hemp farming becomes legal, the real challenge is how are we going to survive potentially catastrophic climate change and other aspects of environmental collapse? While cannabis hemp lends itself to high tech processing for things like fabrication, it also works with low tech systems such as hemp-based concrete construction materials that reduce energy use and provide healthier living environments. Those are the kind of challenges that society has a reasonable expectation of resolving when we restore industrial hemp.
"I say that there are many good reasons to legalize industrial hemp, many good reasons to legalize medical marijuana, and many good reasons to legalize adult use of cannabis and regulate its commerce. I have yet to hear one good reason as to why adults should be sent to prison for this plan." - Chris Conrad
Will hemp farming alter our air and water quality? Are there any environmental disadvantages?
I certainly hope it will alter our air and water quality. It has the potential to provide a carbon sink to clean up CO2 out of the atmosphere and the potential to remove toxins from the soil through its root system. While industrial hemp loves to be pampered, the plant is extremely resilient, prolific, and adaptive. And as we have seen with the way high THC strains have been developed in just the past few decades, America could soon have a seed bank of strains that can handle a big variety of climatic conditions facing challenges ahead. The thing is, we have to get started. I see only two potential environmental disadvantages to using industrial hemp. First is that it may become an invasive species in environmentally sensitive zones. Actually pretty easy to control. Second is that, given all its versatile uses, farmers may be inclined to have hemp monoculture. In my estimation it should be seen as a rotational crop to help control weeds and improve soil.
What do you have to say to those people accusing hemp activists of using the legalization of hemp as their trojan horse to ultimately succeed in marijuana legalization? Can you speak to the people confused about the differences between hemp and marijuana?
I say that there are many good reasons to legalize industrial hemp, many good reasons to legalize medical marijuana, and many good reasons to legalize adult use of cannabis and regulate its commerce. I have yet to hear one good reason as to why adults should be sent to prison for this plan. That's the trick that prohibitionists try to use, to make us defend a plant that is beneficial and good. That helps them avoid being forced to defend a drug war that is corruptive and destructive. We need any excuse to return this fundamental right for people to grow and use plants. It's on the first page of the Bible. Now I want to know why we have almost 1,000,000 people a year arrested for marijuana. That's the real question.
Understanding the difference between hemp and marijuana is like telling the difference between a husky and a greyhound: both are dogs, but one is a worker and the other loves the sensation of running. They look related, but physically, chemically, socially, and genetically they are distinct. Hemp is a fiber and seed crop; marijuana is a flower garden. The real distinction is in the purpose of the plant. Most American farmers are not interested in growing it for marijuana, but industrial hemp is a crop with a future. It's easy to figure it out. If the idea is to make a shirt, that is industrial hemp. If the plan is to smoke a joint, that is marijuana. If it is to be ingested or used topically with a hope to treat a health condition or maintain wellness, that is medical marijuana. In the meantime, to accommodate the distinctions, Canada and Europe base their definitions on 0.03; a very low percentage of THC in the plant.
How versatile is hemp? Can you talk about its environmental, nutritional, and economic advantages?
It's hard to stop talking about hemp once you get started. With an estimated 25 to 50 thousand commercial products that can be produced, it’s unparalleled as a natural resource. It produces prodigious amounts of cellulose, one of the building stones of modern industry. It is critical for reforestation and erosion control, and can greatly reduce the use of pesticides, herbicides, and toxic chemicals in its cultivation and production cycles. Anything that could be made out of timber or fossil fuels can be made with hemp, creating jobs and bringing prosperity to local communities where it should be grown and processed to control the cost of transportation.
When it comes to nutrition, nothing really beats hemp seed. Eight essential proteins, three essential fatty acids, edestin, and two compounds that are nearly unique except for human mother's milk. Nutrition bolsters the immune system and contributes to wellness, reducing the need and expense for avoidable medical treatments. So it creates jobs and wealth from the soil, to the processor, to the manufacturer, to the investor, to the consumer, and all steps in between. As Thomas Jefferson said, hemp is of first necessity for the wealth and protection of the nation. To that I would merely add, the health of the nation. And of the planet.
This article originally appeared on Alltreatment.com.
Image courtesy of Shutterstock
The COVID-19 pandemic is making health disparities in the United States crystal clear. It is a clarion call for health care systems to double their efforts in vulnerable communities.
- The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated America's health disparities, widening the divide between the haves and have nots.
- Studies show disparities in wealth, race, and online access have disproportionately harmed underserved U.S. communities during the pandemic.
- To begin curing this social aliment, health systems like Northwell Health are establishing relationships of trust in these communities so that the post-COVID world looks different than the pre-COVID one.
COVID-19 deepens U.S. health disparities<p>Communities on the pernicious side of America's health disparities have their unique histories, environments, and social structures. They are spread across the United States, but they all have one thing in common.</p><p>"There is one common divide in American communities, and that is poverty," said <a href="https://www.northwell.edu/about/leadership/debbie-salas-lopez" target="_blank">Debbie Salas-Lopez, MD, MPH</a>, senior vice president of community and population health at Northwell Health. "That is the undercurrent that manifests poor health, poor health outcomes, or poor health prognoses for future wellbeing."</p><p>Social determinants have far-reaching effects on health, and poor communities have unfavorable social determinants. To pick one of many examples, <a href="https://www.npr.org/2020/09/27/913612554/a-crisis-within-a-crisis-food-insecurity-and-covid-19" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">food insecurity</a> reduces access to quality food, leading to poor health and communal endemics of chronic medical conditions. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has identified some of these conditions, such as obesity and Type 2 diabetes, as increasing the risk of developing a severe case of coronavirus.</p><p>The pandemic didn't create poverty or food insecurity, but it exacerbated both, and the results have been catastrophic. A study published this summer in the <em><a href="https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11606-020-05971-3" target="_blank">Journal of General Internal Medicine</a></em> suggested that "social factors such as income inequality may explain why some parts of the USA are hit harder by the COVID-19 pandemic than others."</p><p>That's not to say better-off families in the U.S. weren't harmed. A <a href="https://voxeu.org/article/poverty-inequality-and-covid-19-us" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">paper from the Centre for Economic Policy Research</a> noted that families in counties with a higher median income experienced adjustment costs associated with the pandemic—for example, lowering income-earning interactions to align with social distancing policies. However, the paper found that the costs of social distancing were much greater for poorer families, who cannot easily alter their living circumstances, which often include more individuals living in one home and a reliance on mass transit to reach work and grocery stores. They are also disproportionately represented in essential jobs, such as retail, transportation, and health care, where maintaining physical distance can be all but impossible.</p><p>The paper also cited a positive correlation between higher income inequality and higher rates of coronavirus infection. "Our interpretation is that poorer people are less able to protect themselves, which leads them to different choices—they face a steeper trade-off between their health and their economic welfare in the context of the threats posed by COVID-19," the authors wrote.</p><p>"There are so many pandemics that this pandemic has exacerbated," Dr. Salas-Lopez noted.</p><p>One example is the health-wealth gap. The mental stressors of maintaining a low socioeconomic status, especially in the face of extreme affluence, can have a physically degrading impact on health. <a href="https://www.scientificamerican.com/index.cfm/_api/render/file/?method=inline&fileID=123ECD96-EF81-46F6-983D2AE9A45FA354" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Writing on this gap</a>, Robert Sapolsky, professor of biology and neurology at Stanford University, notes that socioeconomic stressors can increase blood pressure, reduce insulin response, increase chronic inflammation, and impair the prefrontal cortex and other brain functions through anxiety, depression, and cognitive load. </p><p>"Thus, from the macro level of entire body systems to the micro level of individual chromosomes, poverty finds a way to produce wear and tear," Sapolsky writes. "It is outrageous that if children are born into the wrong family, they will be predisposed toward poor health by the time they start to learn the alphabet."</p>Research on the economic and mental health fallout of COVID-19 is showing two things: That unemployment is hitting <a href="https://www.pewsocialtrends.org/2020/09/24/economic-fallout-from-covid-19-continues-to-hit-lower-income-americans-the-hardest/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">low-income and young Americans</a> most during the pandemic, potentially widening the health-wealth gap further; and that the pandemic not only exacerbates mental health stressors, but is doing so at clinically relevant levels. As <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7413844/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">the authors of one review</a> wrote, the pandemic's effects on mental health is itself an international public health priority.
Working to close the health gap<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNDc5MDk1MS9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYxNTYyMzQzMn0.KSFpXH7yHYrfVPtfgcxZqAHHYzCnC2bFxwSrJqBbH4I/img.jpg?width=980" id="b40e2" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="1b9035370ab7b02a0dc00758e494412b" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
Northwell Health coronavirus testing center at Greater Springfield Community Church.
Credit: Northwell Health<p>Novel coronavirus may spread and infect indiscriminately, but pre-existing conditions, environmental stressors, and a lack of access to care and resources increase the risk of infection. These social determinants make the pandemic more dangerous, and erode communities' and families' abilities to heal from health crises that pre-date the pandemic.</p><p>How do we eliminate these divides? Dr. Salas-Lopez says the first step is recognition. "We have to open our eyes to see the suffering around us," she said. "Northwell has not shied away from that."</p><p>"We are steadfast in improving health outcomes for our vulnerable and underrepresented communities that have suffered because of the prevalence of chronic disease, a problem that led to the disproportionately higher death rate among African-Americans and Latinos during the COVID-19 pandemic," said Michael Dowling, Northwell's president and CEO. "We are committed to using every tool at our disposal—as a provider of health care, employer, purchaser and investor—to combat disparities and ensure the <a href="https://www.northwell.edu/education-and-resources/community-engagement/center-for-equity-of-care" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">equity of care</a> that everyone deserves." </p><p>With the need recognized, Dr. Salas-Lopez calls for health care systems to travel upstream and be proactive in those hard-hit communities. This requires health care systems to play a strong role, but not a unilateral one. They must build <a href="https://www.northwell.edu/news/insights/faith-based-leaders-are-the-key-to-improving-community-health" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">partnerships with leaders in those communities</a> and utilize those to ensure relationships last beyond the current crisis. </p><p>"We must meet with community leaders and talk to them to get their perspective on what they believe the community needs are and should be for the future. Together, we can co-create a plan to measurably improve [community] health and also to be ready for whatever comes next," she said.</p><p>Northwell has built relationships with local faith-based and community organizations in underserved communities of color. Those partnerships enabled Northwell to test more than 65,000 people across the metro New York region. The health system also offered education on coronavirus and precautions to curb its spread.</p><p>These initiatives began the process of building trust—trust that Northwell has counted on to return to these communities to administer flu vaccines to prepare for what experts fear may be a difficult flu season.</p><p>While Northwell has begun building bridges across the divides of the New York area, much will still need to be done to cure U.S. health care overall. There is hope that the COVID pandemic will awaken us to the deep disparities in the US.</p><p>"COVID has changed our world. We have to seize this opportunity, this pandemic, this crisis to do better," Dr. Salas-Lopez said. "Provide better care. Provide better health. Be better partners. Be better community citizens. And treat each other with respect and dignity.</p><p>"We need to find ways to unify this country because we're all human beings. We're all created equal, and we believe that health is one of those important rights."</p>
What’s Eminem doing in Missouri? Kanye West in Georgia? And Wiz Khalifa in, of all places, North Dakota?
This is a mysterious map. Obviously about music, or more precisely musicians. But what’s Eminem doing in Missouri? Kanye West in Georgia? And Wiz Khalifa in, of all places, North Dakota? None of these musicians are from those states! Everyone knows that! Is this map that stupid, or just looking for a fight? Let’s pause a moment and consider our attention spans, shrinking faster than polar ice caps.
MRI scans show that hunger and loneliness cause cravings in the same area, which suggests socialization is a need.
- A new study demonstrates that our brains crave social interaction with the same areas used to crave food.
- Hungry test subjects also reported a lack of desire to socialize, proving the existence of "hanger."
- Other studies have suggested that failure to socialize can lead to stress eating in rodents.
People sometimes crave socialization, literally.<p> Forty participants underwent 10 hours of either social isolation or fasting before being placed in an MRI machine. Those who fasted had their brains imaged while viewing pictures of food; those emerging from isolation viewed photos of socializing people. <strong><br> <br> </strong>The areas of the brain related to hunger pains, reward, and movements, the substantia nigra pars compacta and ventral tegmental area (SN/VTA), are also associated with cravings for food or addictive substances. When those who fasted viewed images of food, these regions of their brains lit up. Most interestingly, the same brain regions lit up when those who had been isolated for 10 hours saw pictures of other people socializing. <br> <br> Test subjects also filled out questionnaires during and after the fasting and isolation periods. Not only did this confirm that people felt cravings for what they had missed, but that the effect was similar in both cases. </p><p>They also showed that very hungry people were less responsive to images of socializing, suggesting that "hanger," the state of being irritable as a result of hunger, is a demonstrable <a href="https://www.insider.com/loneliness-and-hunger-have-similar-effects-on-the-brain-study-2020-11" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">state</a>. </p>
How can I use this information? I’m asking for a friend.<p> The obvious takeaway is that it is perfectly normal to feel a need for interaction with others after an extended bout of isolation. Our brains treat some form of interaction as a basic need that must be met. While not shown as clearly in humans, not getting these needs often drives mice to <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29334694/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">stress ea</a><a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29334694/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">t</a>, a finding that makes a great deal of sense in light of these new findings. <br> </p><p>Exactly how we can meet the need for socialization outside of just meeting up with people (a tricky proposition at the time of writing) remains up for debate. Anybody who has tried a Zoom party during the pandemic can attest to it just not being as nice as seeing friends in person. <br> <br> The study's authors are aware of this issue and note that:<br> <br> "A vital question is how much, and what kinds of, positive social interaction is sufficient to fulfill our social needs and thus eliminate the neural craving response. Technological advances offer incessant opportunities to be virtually connected with others, despite physical separations. Yet, some have argued that using social media only exacerbates subjective feelings of isolation.<sup>"</sup><br> </p><p>Unfortunately, the study cannot offer us an answer to this question just yet. </p>
Like always, there are limitations to this study.<iframe width="730" height="430" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/sgxMsgDWnAU" frameborder="0" allow="accelerometer; autoplay; clipboard-write; encrypted-media; gyroscope; picture-in-picture" allowfullscreen></iframe><p> This study involved 40 participants. While its essential finding is likely to be generally applicable, exactly how applicable it is to the broader population cannot be known with certainty from such a small group. The participants were also healthy, well-connected young adults who might react to various problems differently than other demographic groups. </p><p>Their tendency to do so while being the focus of endless studies on psychology is a well-recorded problem. <br> <br> Likewise, the fact that the participants knew they would only be isolated for 10 hours may have impacted how they reacted to the isolation—it is often easier to endure something when you know precisely when it will end. </p><p>Getting around that in future experiments may prove impossible. From an ethical standpoint, it would be difficult to structure an experiment on humans predicated on the idea that they will be kept isolated from all social interaction indefinitely. <br> <br> Lastly, while all of the participants were quite hungry after 10 hours, there were enough variations in how lonely people felt after isolation to suggest a more significant variance in need for socialization than in demand for food. While this seems obvious, we all know both introverts and extroverts; it does make it more challenging to determine how much social interaction counts as a "need" that the brain craves just as it craves food. </p><p>As usual, more research is needed.</p><p> The idea that humans are social animals existed long before modern neuroscience was possible. Now, we can see exactly what happens in the brain when we can't socialize. While the final word on the subject is still to be said, it might be time to give a friend a call. </p>
Researchers document the first example of evolutionary changes in a plant in response to humans.
- A plant coveted in China for its medicinal properties has developed camouflage that makes it less likely to be spotted and pulled up from the ground.
- In areas where the plant isn't often picked, it's bright green. In harvested areas, it's now a gray that blends into its rocky surroundings.
- Herbalists in China have been picking the Fritillaria dealvayi plant for 2,000 years.
Fritillaria dealvayi<p>The plant is <em> </em><a href="http://www.efloras.org/florataxon.aspx?flora_id=2&taxon_id=200027633" target="_blank"><em>Fritillaria dealvayi</em></a><em>,</em> and its bulbs are harvested by Chinese herbalists, who grind it into a powder that treats coughs. The cough powder sells for the equivalent of $480 per kilogram, with a kilogram requiring the grinding up of about 3,500 bulbs. The plant is found in the loose rock fields lining the slopes of the Himalayan and Hengduan mountains in southwestern China.</p><p>As a perennial that produces just a single flower each year after its fifth season, it seems <em>Fritillaria</em> used to be easier to find. In some places its presence is betrayed by bright green leaves that stand out against the rocks among which which it grows. In other places, however, its leaves and stems are gray and blend in with the rocks. What's fascinating is that the bright green leaves are visible in areas in which Fritillaria is relatively undisturbed by humans while the gray leaves are (just barely) visible in heavily harvested areas. Same plant, two different appearances.</p><div id="19cbf" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="c68d3086f5411ffd951edaad1cb811b9"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1329832938985435138" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">2/2: The picture on the left shows a Fritillaria delavayi in populations with high harvest pressure, and the one on… https://t.co/oriBNZGcsV</div> — University of Exeter News (@University of Exeter News)<a href="https://twitter.com/UniofExeterNews/statuses/1329832938985435138">1605891854.0</a></blockquote></div>
How we know we're the cause<p>There are other camouflaging plants, but the manner in which <em>Fritillaria</em> has developed this trait strongly suggests that it's a defensive response to being picked. "Many plants seem to use camouflage to hide from herbivores that may eat them — but here we see camouflage evolving in response to human collectors."</p><p>"Like other camouflaged plants we have studied," Niu says, " we thought the evolution of camouflage of this fritillary had been driven by herbivores, but we didn't find such animals." His close examination of Fritillaria leaves revealed no bite marks or other signs of non-human predation. "Then we realized humans could be the reason."</p><p>In any event, says Professor Hang Sun the Kunming Institute, "Commercial harvesting is a much stronger selection pressure than many pressures in nature."</p><img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNDgyNzM0My9vcmlnaW4ucG5nIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYzMDc3NDQwMn0.lXwsG0ShcnMcVLl06APdEeEOY5_WOs4UfN8oVCKsgtc/img.png?width=980" id="ccc8e" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="907e152dd5ad0429aa6350c53f5a85aa" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="herb shop" />
Credit: maron/Adobe Stock