That’s changed, as we can now commercially produce spider’s silk.
AMSilk has figurted out how to do it without having a billion black
widows running around some horrible barn. That wouldn’t work anyway,
since spiders are cannibalistic and angry creatures. They’d eat each
other before creating enough silk to make a nice shirt, much less a
bulletproof vest. Instead, the company uses something that’s almost
equally horrifying: the bacteria E. coli! That’s right, AMSilk uses the
bacteria known for horrible food poisoning to create a material that's
useful for all sorts of things.
Researchers genetically modified
E. coli, crossing it with European garden cross spider DNA, so the
bacteria would create four different varieties of silk in 20 different
grades. I hope this doesn’t creep you out too much, because the company
has already been selling it to shampoo and cosmetic companies for
integration into the products. This isn’t as strange as it sounds: silk
is a sought-after commodity for a number of reasons, mostly its strength
and durability. It’s just best not to think about where it’s born.
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