Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Just in on my email alerts was this one on flax getting ready to make a comeback in the US - using an enzyme they use on hemp, which is not legal in the US. This is good - flax is better than cotton - but not as good as allowing hemp to grow and starting an industry, which the US economy needs so badly. Flax is less useful than hemp as a plant, but is much better than cotton, both in its seed and its growing habit. Cotton needs lots of water and pesticides, which keeps chemical companies prosperous. So I welcome flax, as I welcome so many other useful plants on this site, many of which share hemp's legacy of being maligned or underestimated.
What I question about the article below is why it is titled "Super Seed Bumps Hemp" - this is really a piece about existing techonology used on hemp that is applied to flax - historically, the plants shared so many similarities that a treatise on one was a treatise on the other. They are not related however. They should both be accorded a place in our fields, as they once were.

Super Seed Bumps Hemp
Jenara Nerenberg
Tue Sep 21, 2010

Naturally Advanced Technologies wants the sustainable fashion industry to get loaded on flax.
Flax, the uber-fiber-packed grain, is now being touted by Naturally Advanced Technologies (NAT) as their super sustainable, commercially-viable alternative to cotton. NAT promises a cost-effective, soft fiber that will revolutionize the sustainability industry and the price points for sustainable fashion designs. The patented process called CRAiLAR was previously used on hemp, but its primary benefits are now being seen with flax. NAT bathes the flax in an enzyme that makes the fiber soft, yet keeps it strong and durable.
Flax is readily available in the United States (unlike hemp, which has to be imported). Portions of the seed often thrown out in food processing can now be salvaged and used, according to NAT. What's more, they've managed to make the fiber output soft, unlike the typically-stiff textures of hemp.
NAT says it is currently in talks with large consumer brands. "Our ability to commercialize flax fibers in partnership with brands who have such broad consumer bases means, for the first time, sustainability can be affordable to everyone," says NAT CEO Ken Barker. "With cotton prices currently at 90 to 93 cents per pound, flax is a cost-effective raw material for fiber production. The productivity of our process using flax is twice as efficient as it is with hemp, yielding nearly twice as much usable fiber." Get ready for the flax revolution.
[Images courtesy Howard F. Schwartz, Colorado State University,]

1 comment:

Carlos said...

Great, at least for flax, using the enzyme will give us info we use...