Salewa's Jummy Ingeo shirt

Salewa, based in Germany, are claiming to be the only adventure sports manufacturer offering Ingeo. (It could have been someone else, but more on that below) Ingeo is something you're going to hear much ado about, especially in the next few years, as a flood of product hits the market. Salewa suggest their shirt made of Ingeo will "direct perspiration moisture immediately away from the body, dry extremely quickly and feel as comfortable as silk." The usual claim for outdoor sports next-to-skin apparel. So you're wondering, where is the TH eco bit? Ingeo is made from corn! Strictly speaking, it is fermented corn starches, but that doesn't sound as sexy. Like Tencel before it, Ingeo is a man-made fibre from a renewable natural source. Whereas Tencel's base is slow growing wood pulp, Ingeo's source is fast growing annuals. And when your shirt has worn out, just bung it in the compost bin. It's biodegradable. Fantastic! Well, nearly...... ::Patagonia thought it was a brilliant concept too. They were all set, a couple of years ago, to launch a line of fleece jackets made from the stuff, as an 'industry first' development. Except they discovered, at the eleventh hour, that the supplier, Cargill Dow were not able to guarantee that the corn was free of genetical modification. Patagonia pulled the pin - they'd been campaigning heavily against GMOs.

Even now Cargill Dow are bit cagey about their response. Go to the Q&A; on their website and ask: Does Ingeo fiber contain genetically modified material? The answer is: "Ingeo fibers do not contain genetically modified material, nor does its production require any genetically modified raw material." But hunt around further on the same site and there is a quite different Q&A.; Why does Cargill Dow use dextrose from GM crops. A. We use what is available in the supply chain. Today, the corn growing, distribution and processing supply chain does not maintain segregation of genetically enhanced corn and conventional corn through to the dextrose Cargill Dow purchases." Huh? How can they say it doesn't contain GMOs, when it very likely comes from GMO crops? What gives? you might ask. Well, apparently the processing used to derive Natureworks PLA (polylactic acid), the stuff they make Ingeo fibres from, "removes all traces of genetic material." So while the product may not contain it, the source material most probably did - over 30% of all corn grown in the US is said to be genetically 'enhanced'. (I did hear ages ago that Patagonia had not given up hope of developing a form of Ingeo, using organic corn. Now, that would be something to celebate.)

Anyhow all that aside, the Salewa Jummy women's shirt will be available in 2005, in the shades of anthracite, rose, lime, sunglow, cloud, sand, for €39.95, A men's version is also coming. While not posted there just yet, keep an eye out for the shirts at ::Salewa [by WM]

NB: Get more background on products made from NatureWorks PLA from: Corpwatch and Ingeo