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Sal A. Light
Say it fast aloud
I actually invested money into the now dissolved Canadian company, Nexia Biotechnologies, which was the first to do the spider-goats. You are entirely correctly. Spinning the silk is the harder second part. The gains in reducing cost per meter couldn't keep the pace with similar gains in carbon nanotubes, which competed for many of the same practical applications. Nexia's first path to market was to be superstrong medical sutures. At first, the FDA promised expensive human trials would not be needed since the proteins were naturally occurring. When the FDA later about-faced, it was Game Over for Nexia, who sold the IP rights to a company in Virginia. They also sold the IP behind their proven anti-chemical warfare agents. But the tyrants of the world never used chemical warfare against the US military, so that was (thankfully) also a financial bust.
Nexia was also trying to GMO a plant crop that could grow the silk protein in their leaves. After harvesting, the leaves would be grinded and sifted. However, you're still back to the same Spinning Problem that you highlighted.
Cohen speculates that the massive leaks by Edward Snowden of national security secrets, which began in June 2013, could also have been a factor in NSF’s decision. “If it’s a matter of weighing the employee’s statement against what the investigator says he has found, agencies will resolve it in favor of national security,” Cohen says. “That’s just how it is, especially after Snowden.”
Confirmed my suspicion when I first read the summary. THIS will be the lasting legacy of Snowden's actions. Not increased government accountability or transparency, but a hellbent determination to make sure they will never be caught with their pants down again. Sigh.