Posts Tagged ‘canada’

Industrial Hemp

For decades, farmers and environmental activists have been trying to legalize nonpsychoactive hemp for cultivation in California. The plants require far less water and fertilizers than cotton, need no herbicides or pesticides, and produce fibers that can be used in everything from paper to clothing. The crop can renew itself every 90 days, making hemp and excellent natural and biodegradable material. Last week, Governor Jerry Brown signed SB 566 into law allowing hemp to be grown domestically. California joins nine other states and over 30 countries in its decision to raise hemp. Already a $500 million industry in the state, California will now no longer have to rely upon importing hemp to support manufacturing demand.

The bill was introduced in 2005 by Senator Mark Leno. Since its initial proposal as HR 32 in 1999, the legislation was vetoed  four times by three different governors. Governor Brown struck down the bill in 2011 citing a gap in state and federal policies, although he acknowledged it was “absurd” that the state had to count on Mexico and Canada to provide hemp. With his approval, farmers will now be able to raise “nonpsychoactive types of the plant Cannabis sativa L. and the seed produced therefrom, having no more than 3/10 of 1 percent of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) contained in the dried flowering tops.”

“I have great confidence in a recent statement by Attorney General Eric Holder,” Leno told the SF Bay Guardian. “He’s said that if a state puts into place a legal allowance and regulatory scheme, that the federal government would not interfere with marijuana. Now, we need clarification between hemp and marijuana, but there’s no sensical way that that could be interpreted that hemp is excluded, given that hemp’s not a drug.”

Bambu Batu offers a few hemp items in the shop, but looks forward to seeing more sustainable, locally-grown fibers on the market!

Here at Bambu Batu, we have a great appreciation for natural fibers. Yet, there are some textiles that it can be a little hard to wrap our heads around. Case in point: hagfish slime. Yes, scientists have been working on developing thread from the defensive mucous of the eel-like marine animal. It turns out that the goo is affordable, abundant, and rivals spider silk in strength. Researchers at the University of Guleph in Canada were the first to take a good long look at a substance that most people do their best to avoid.

The slime contains a number of proteins that are 100 times thinner than a human hair. After isolating the threads, the scientists found that they were 10 times stronger than nylon. The team will not have to only rely on harvesting the substance from hagfish as they can engineer bacteria to synthesize the proteins. Efforts to make spider silk this way has met challenge as the proteins are larger and difficult for the bacteria to create. Goats had been modified to produce the proteins in their milk, but using mammals greatly increases the cost of the material.

One of the advantages to the slime lays in the fact that it can become a durable, organic alternative to petroleum-based cloths like polyester or Kevlar. And, if you really think about it, could wearing sea snot be all the much more gross than sporting silk? Would you wear a suit of slime?