By Jean Lotus, Publisher
A proverb says a lie can travel half way around the world before the Truth gets its trousers on. This is certainly more true in the internet age, especially with aggregated news gathering.
Last week, hempcrete got an undeserved black eye when a handful of news outlets incorrectly reported that a 3D printed home in Muscatine, IA was demolished because of material inadequacies.
It was a story that was bound to travel. 3D printing is exciting! Hemp is exciting! The two combined are clearly internet gold.
Plus, reporters are pushed to produce quickly. Unfortunately, news aggregation prioritizes speed. Reporters copy and re-write/repackage news often without linking to an original source. One problem was that earlier reporting had implied that hemp was being used in the concrete, or at least studied by local university students.
The story caught my eye because the company, Alquist 3D, has moved its headquarters here to Greeley, CO and the CEO, Patrick Callahan, spoke at an incubator event recently saying that the printing concrete didn’t currently contain hemp, but the company was looking into it.
When the story began to zip around the internet, Alquist 3D founder Zach Mannheimer graciously got back to HempBuildmag.com and confirmed by email that the Muscatine concrete contained no hemp.
HempBuildmag did our best to contact editors to clarify that hemp was NOT used in the concrete. News outlets responded in different ways.
Hackaday reporter Kristina Panos responded quickly and the company issued a clarification, but not before 125 comments on the story had been posted furiously discussing the pros and cons of hempcrete.
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Meanwhile, 3dPrint.com removed all mention of hemp without issuing a retraction or clarification, causing commenters to speculate that the now-confusing article was “written by AI.”
Belgium-based 3DAdept.com did not respond to requests for clarification and, at publication time, is still reporting that hempcrete was used in the mix. Sigh.
As a reporter, I know it’s embarrassing to make a mistake — and I’ve made plenty over my 20 year career.
But accuracy is vital in reporting about the hemp industry. The unfortunate word “hempcrete” itself, which is a fond nickname for hemp-lime, has caused countless errors and misconceptions in the mainstream and cannabis press. We work with that, but we must push back if something is being reported incorrectly.
Plus, our industry is mildly tangential to the illicit cannabis industry — which can cause lies and exaggeration to flourish.
This seems a good time to reiterate our promise to you: We are committed to accuracy and will correct any errors we publish — it happens.
Hemp and Block LLC
US Heritage Group
Terra Vida Academy
Building innovation is tricky and requires a lot of nerve and willingness to fail. We’re excited that Alquist 3D is considering adding hemp to their 3D printing concrete in the future. We’re glad they agreed to absorb the cost of the failed project and are moving forward with the Muscatine homes.
We must push onward and keep working toward a future where the industrial hemp plant’s amazing properties are fully utilized, and the words describing them are accurate.
— Jean Lotus, Publisher
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Originally published December 3, 2023 on Hemp Building Mag