Cornerways Nursery, for many years one of the largest tomato nurseries in the country, is to phase out the growing of the crop over the next few months and will start growing cannabis plants for use in epilepsy medicine.
The decision by owner of the business, British Sugar, will see the new crop of Cannabidiol (CBD) replacing the tomato crop after all existing supply commitments have finished.
The ingredient will be used in a new prescription medicine being developed to treat rare but serious forms of epilepsy in children, as part of a contract with GW Pharmaceuticals.
Paul Kenward, managing director of British Sugar, said: “Sixteen years ago we realised we could use some of the heat and waste carbon dioxide generated in our Wissington sugar factory to develop a horticultural business. During this time, we have invested in our world class facilities and developed our expertise to deliver consistent, high quality crops season after season. This new era for our horticultural business uses all we have learned to date to further build this value stream for British Sugar and to benefit the pharmaceutical industry.”
Mr Kenward added: “We are extremely proud that our new crop will make a worthwhile contribution to the control of such a debilitating childhood disease. Annually, we will produce enough of this ingredient to treat the equivalent of up to 40,000 children globally.” Dravet syndrome is one such form of epilepsy which could be treated by the new prescription medicine.
This also means that the end of the 2016 growing season the marketing agreement between Cornerways and Thanet Earth will come to an end.