Bacteria Produced Plastic Approved and Commercialized

I usually have a healthy skepticism for anything that’s genetically modified, but this is something I’ve previously mentioned (reLink) which I rather like: plastic produced by bacteria. In this case, however, they’re genetically-altered, so I’m a little torn.

According to a story on the MIT Technology Review site (Link), the uses are primarily for medical purposes . I’d rather we were using this material in things like plastic engine components or something else a bit further removed. From the article:

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved a new kind of absorbable sutures that are more flexible and far stronger than those currently on the market. The sutures are made out of a polymer produced by genetically engineered bacteria.

Beyond its use in sutures, the polyester represents a valuable new material for other medical devices.

What’s more, Tepha’s polyester is a thermoplastic–a material that melts at a high temperature and becomes solid when cooled–and thus can be readily molded into different shapes.

As I have no clue about such things, I can only assume that the absorbable suture material cannot possibly contain any of those bacteria. The human species is already plasticizing itself, we don’t need any help in that department.

By the way, what does this E. coli variant eat?

2 thoughts on “Bacteria Produced Plastic Approved and Commercialized

  1. Imagine what impact this might have on petroleum reliance. Then again, my mind keeps heading back to Stephenson’s scenario in “Zodiac” where bacteria threaten to turn the Earth’s water supply into dioxins. :)

  2. Well, if they can munch on LDPE, PP and all the other low-grade plastics in our landfills and convert them, that also means they can eat through most of middle America’s precious belongings should they get loose. Without all the excess, what will the U-Stor-It’s of the world do?

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