PAW7: Corporate campaigns to stop the use and sale of silk
resolved Jul 27

As part of Charity Entrepreneurship's 2023 Top Ideas contest, will we select "Corporate campaigns to stop the use and sale of silk" as a top Preventive Animal Welfare intervention?

Idea overview

This charity idea targets the silk industry by launching corporate campaigns aimed at stopping the sale and use of silk in clothing and bedding. Focusing on the ethical concerns surrounding silk production, which involves the boiling of silkworms, the charity would advocate for more humane alternatives. By engaging with companies and consumers, the organization would seek to raise awareness about the ethical implications of silk production. Its goal would be to  drive the adoption of cruelty-free, sustainable alternatives within the fashion and home goods industries.

Preventive animal welfare

This year our focus is on interventions and policies that prevent future harms done to animals, as opposed to solving current problems. We will be looking for interventions that, as well as having some short run evidence of impact, will prevent future problems, i.e., have the biggest impact on farmed animals in the future, say 35 years from now.

We intend to select 2-4 ideas out of the 10 presented to recommend to entrepreneurs who enter our incubation program. This market resolves YES if this idea is chosen; NO otherwise.

About the contest

In partnership with Charity Entrepreneurship, Manifold is sponsoring a $2000 forecasting tournament to inform which ideas end up selected

  • You can win part of a $1000 prize pool as a forecaster, for best predicting which interventions we choose.

  • You can win one of ten $100 prizes for posting an informative comment on Manifold that most influences our decision.

For contest details and all markets, see the group CE 2023 Top Ideas.

Get Ṁ500 play money

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JesusDeSivar avatar
Jesus Of Sivarpredicted NO

Related market:

EliKaufman avatar
Eli Kaufmanbought Ṁ10 of NO

The case around silkworms' ability to feel pain is not strong enough. Therefore this seems like a lower priority.

EvanLaForge avatar
Evan LaForgebought Ṁ10 of NO

The market seems to be in a pretty good place because this intervention seems to be less effective than the others. Due to the low level of sympathy the average person has for these worms, it seems likely that this intervention will be fairly intractable. Also, this is likely to provoke strong backlash from those whose jobs/businesses are threatened.

DanMan314 avatar

A few thoughts:

  • In addition to having low base cognitive capabilities, it seems like killing while in the pupal stage mitigates concerns even further, as there are few mechanisms for awareness within the cocoon. I suspect there are still nociceptors but it's not clear how much the creature processes them, and all research (like linked above) is done on the worm stage.

  • Why is the the target of this organization awareness? It seems like policy solutions around humane deaths would be more likely to be effective at scale. There are already organizations in the awareness space.

  • Production is around 200,000 kg/year, with 5000 cocoons/kg, means ~1 billion coocons/year. This is a number that is utterly dwarfed by other insect welfare concerns.

BTE avatar
Brian T. Edwards

I definitely thought this was about soy milk for the last two days.

PatMyron avatar
Pat Myron

Seems much more effective to campaign broader than silk and campaign more generally about animal products in clothing and bedding:
Might as well present the other information as well if you're already distributed silk information

According to this, things like dye production kill an order of magnitude more insects than silk production:

jacksonpolack avatar
jackson polackbought Ṁ200 of NO

It's difficult to make a case that silkworm suffering is morally significant, imo. But possible. I think it's significantly less plausible the cause will get traction among people who aren't hardcore moral philosophers. I can conceive of having empathy for fish, but silkworms may as well be plasmodium.

imagine Parasite Welfare: Careful utilitarian calculation necessitates abandoning treating LMIC diseases. Reasonable moral weights put the difference in pleasure/pain between microorganisms and humans well below the difference in brute scale. Save a trillion cute little nanowigglies today!

AnishaZaveri avatar
Anisha Zaveripredicted NO

GPT-4 ranked this as #10

AnishaZaveri avatar
Anisha Zaveribought Ṁ35 of NO

Did about 15 minutes of research on this. Main takeaways

  • I would be surprised if pupae experience pain when they are being boiled since basically a huge chunk of their body is being disintegrated anyway as part of their lifecycle

  • Most current anti silk commitments come from concerns about human suffering in the silk industry ( eg child labour practices). These don’t seem as impactful from an EA angle