“One of the most captivating arguments in Janine Benyus’ celebrated book Biomimicry: Innovation Inspired by Nature (HarperCollins, 1997) concerned her aspiration for modern industry to create materials as strong, elegant, and versatile as spider silk. Four years earlier, Jeffrey Turner and Paul Ballard founded Nexia Biotechnologies, in rural Quebec, Canada, to produce BioSteel, a high-performance silk-like fiber made by cultivating recombinant proteins in the milk of transgenic goats. ”We take a single gene from a golden orb-weaving spider and put it into a goat egg. The idea is to make the goat secrete spider silk into its milk,” Turner told The New York Times in 2002.
Although Nexia went bankrupt in 2009, Spiber has since taken the reins in creating a synthetic spider thread it calls Qmonos (based on kumonosu, the Japanese term for a spider web). The fibroin protein that imparts Qmonos with its dragline, silk-like quality is not made from goats’ milk, but rather bio-engineered bacteria and recombinant DNA. What’s more, Spiber has developed a scalable production method and has already collaborated with apparel brand The North Face to produce the Moon Parka, an insulating jacket designed for extreme polar expeditions with a shell made entirely of Qmonos fiber. The parka, currently on an exhibition tour across Japan, is expected to be available for consumer purchase in 2016.”