Future silk?

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SarahS
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Future silk?

Postby SarahS » Tue Mar 08, 2011 1:00 pm

Could be good news (true artificial silk cloth) or bad news (silk worms diverted from making silk for cloth):
http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/08/science/08silk.html?src=me&ref=general
Heather
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Re: Future silk?

Postby Heather » Tue Mar 08, 2011 2:25 pm

Fortunately, spiders don't make silk cloth. Silk worms are a type of moth; it's the cocoon for the transformation from worm to moth that is harvested for cloth. Spider silk is a whole new thing, wanted for industrial applications.
SarahS
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Re: Future silk?

Postby SarahS » Tue Mar 08, 2011 6:10 pm

Yea, but in the article they talk about genetically engineering silk worms to produce spider type silks in quantity, they also mention trying to make new types of thread by imitating spider silk though so far they have only ended up with nylon...of course it may all come to nothing.
MaryGode
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Re: Future silk?

Postby MaryGode » Wed Mar 09, 2011 7:00 am

As I read it, the thing about spiders is they make different kinds of silk for different applications with different spinnerets. Are the scientists trying to make the existing silkworm squirt out different formulas of silk, when they really need to be building a new kind of silkworm with the right equipment to make the different kinds...
Clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence on society. ~MarkTwain
rangerfeline
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Re: Future silk?

Postby rangerfeline » Wed Mar 09, 2011 10:50 am

Thanks for sharing, SarahS! I love reading stuff like this.
I have often tried to explain to my husband why silk is so expensive, yet so worth it, by saying, "But honey... silkworms died so I could have it!"
SarahS
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Re: Future silk?

Postby SarahS » Wed Mar 09, 2011 11:11 am

If I could I'd wear nothing but silk. And while they died at least they had a happy life eating all those nice mulberry leaves provided by those kindly humans.

I think they should just leave the silk worms alone. Look at all the trouble being caused in the agricultural community. I no longer eat long grain rice because Monsanto let loose a variety that has a built in insecticide and it has taken over around the world, after the "accidental" release it was realized this long grain rice was taking over and could not be stopped, so the USDA quickly came out saying it was safe for human consumption...well I've heard that before about too many things (remember DDT? which is still used in some countries). Just recently organic alfalfa growers sued to stop the release of a built in insecticide (or fungicide can't remember exactly) strain of alfalfa that is extremely vigorous and it's pollen carries long distances, they lost and very soon it will be impossible to grow organic alfalfa which makes it hard to produce organic cattle (alfalfa is often used as a winter feed) or just keep your horse on an all natural diet.

Sarah mounts her high horse and continues:
Who knows what this will do to natural silk worms once the modified ones get released (and they will, they always do, and they have wings in moth form which is needed for the next generation...African bees in the Western hemisphere are but one example). From what I've heard silk worms are having enough problems due to climate change and pollution. At best if they could be safely produced they will be competing for a limited supply of mulberry leaves (they can eat some other types of leaves but this reduces their productivity) and so if their new silk, used for other things, is more valuable then it will result in less silk being made for cloth (this is what I was alluding too in my original post).

I'm not necessarily opposed to genetic engineering but it has to be done in a safe and sensible way, alas human history is replete with examples where profit concerns far outweigh those other two concerns and destroying an entire industry like organic alfalfa just to increase the profits of a few alfalfa farmers (who make surprising amounts of money already from a crop that is low labor but high water use) is nonsensical and should be criminal.

Ok I'll step down off my high organic horse now.
MaryGode
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Re: Future silk?

Postby MaryGode » Wed Mar 09, 2011 11:49 am

I'm with you SarahS, I'd happily sew and wear nothing but silk for the rest of my life. Trying to get spider silk out of silkworms, and thus diverting silk to anything other than my fashion fabric obsession is right out! Look scientists, there are some nice carbon nanotubes over there! Go play with them!

(Which is not to say I don't believe in genetic engineering, but like the rice you mention, Monsanto et al have to be more careful. The farmers in the midwest are already battling the Roundup-resistant super weeds in the Roundup-Ready® bean fields, and it's only been a little more than a decade. You can't tell me they didn't see this coming, and proceed anyway just to snag the early profits.)
Clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence on society. ~MarkTwain
SarahS
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Posts: 260
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Location: Lost Sierra

Re: Future silk?

Postby SarahS » Thu Mar 10, 2011 10:27 pm

Plagued by Roundup ready weeds? If so then you need "Roundup: The Next Generation" which will kill those pesky Roundup resistant weeds and it only costs five times what the original formula Roundup does, truly a bargain in these tough economic times.


The fine print:
side effects -- kills people who live within 500 miles of the fields it's sprayed on (well actually it kills most animals but our lawyers say we only have to put out warnings about human side effects);
dissolves the equipment used to spray it so you will need a new sprayer approximately every 10 acres;
please note that it will also destroy 1/2 of your crop, but that's less than the 2/3 the super weeds will kill (that's the super weeds that we ummm...."accidentally" bred by selling you lots of Roundup);
you will need a new tractor operator approximately every 2 hours of spray time.



Legal disclaimer: the above is a parody of a future advertisement and does not (yet) reflect reality (I hope).

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