Hornback talks Ag. issues including Monsanto, tobacco as a jet fuel and targeting vapor products in 2015

08/20/2014 10:21 AM

Republican Sen. Paul Hornback is contemplating a bid for Agriculture Commissioner in 2015, but the Shelbyville farmer and Senate Agriculture Chairman has several agriculture related initiatives to consider in the upcoming session.

Hornback brought a bill in the 2014 session banning the sale of e-cigarettes to minors, and in the upcoming session he would like to take those protections a step further.

“I thought the least we could do in Kentucky is make it so kids couldn’t get a hold of them,” Hornback said. “I want Kentucky to be on the forefront of this. I would like to see a tax structure on vapor products.”

The liquid in the vapor products is often nicotine based and comes in an individual sealed cigarette shaped dispenser or as a refillable liquid.

Working with Smoke Free Kentucky, American Cancer Society, Altria, Reynolds and Lorillard, Hornback said he hopes to have a bill drafted by January or February. One of the challenges is setting up a tax structure on the liquids, because not all of the liquid vapor products contain nicotine.

Hornback also floated the idea of mandating that only one-time use sealed vapor products could be used in Kentucky, making the refills which he said often come from overseas illegal in the state.

There have also been advances in the use of tobacco beyond nicotine. An Owensboro company has genetically altered the plant to treat the Ebola virus.

Boeing is also partnering with South African Airlines to produce a jet fuel made from the tobacco plant. Nearly one-third of overhead for airlines is investing in fuel for planes, but the crop would be cheaper and would substantially cut carbon emissions.

Solaris, the form of tobacco being used, will be grown near the airline in South Africa, but Hornback said there is opportunity in Kentucky to — the state just needs to take the first step.

“I think it’s a good opportunity for our growers. I think it’s a good opportunity for the state of Kentucky and I hope that we would try to reach out to some of the airline companies and see if we could do that here,” Hornback said.

There has also been a push in the last several years to go back to naturally grown, chemical-free, non-genetically modified food in the United States and around the world.

“I think that if we’re going to feed the billions of people in the world over the next 25-years genetically modified has moved our production forward more than anything else could possibly have done that,” Hornback said adding that there are problems including weeds that are becoming resistant to chemicals.

Hear what else Hornback has to say about GMO (5:10) and Monsanto (9:15) in the video above.


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