Half a croissant, on a plate, with a sign in front of it saying '50c'
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dental floss cornsilk

Maize with silk engineered to work as dental floss, for pleasurable -- and much-needed -- post-meal flossing.
 
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Mmm, summer corn-on-the-cob: sweet, succulent...and stubborn between the teeth (must have made even Orville Redenbacher feel like he was teething again). But, ladies and gents, maize is also one of our best-studied and most easily manipulable genetic model organisms -- suggesting a potential solution to the gum-clogging, tooth rot-promoting issue. The pesky, stringy silk pollen tubes we're so careful to strip from maize before eating could, with some genetic tweaking, serve nicely as floss. We'd just need to engineer their outer cell layer to develop as an even more fibrous, even more floss-like tissue (and grasses like maize are great at pumping out such indigestible polymers...). And hey, we could even make the cells in question express spearmint oil or some other breath- freshener!
n-pearson, Jun 16 2003

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       Given that rabbits are so very fond of cornsilk (in my experience, anyway), I have to nix this one. (I am also concerned with the potential for ingesting indigestible threads: you can *really* mess up your intestines that way. Well, cats and dogs and rabbits can, and I assume people too.)
DrCurry, Jun 16 2003
  

       When did cornsilk become indigestible? I'm not overly fastidious about removing every piece and I've never noticed any bad effects.
snarfyguy, Jun 16 2003
  

       My point: cornsilk is eminently digestible, floss is eminently hazardous.
DrCurry, Jun 16 2003
  

       Ah so. I misunderstood.   

       Good point.
snarfyguy, Jun 16 2003
  

       "Engineered" = selectively bred?
phoenix, Jun 16 2003
  

       Cellulose (aka 'fiber') and similar plant polymers are indigestible in the sense that your gut can't significantly burn them for energy -- though some of the bacteria in your gut can. This is why raw veggies are so good fiberwise, but also make you fart. That's all I meant digestibility-wise.   

       'Engineered' here = selectively bred from plants infected with a plant-specific bacterium (e.g. one called Agrobacter) which itself has been made to carry a newly designed segment of DNA; this segment of DNA can, when activated by particular conditions, jump into the genome of a host cell. If the protein-coding DNA sequence is well- designed, and jumps into the right part of the maize genome to be expressed in the right cells at the right time &c., then we get the trait we want.
n-pearson, Jun 16 2003
  
      
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