I watched a video this morning on The Guardian website where a group of people have perfected extracting silk from a spider of the species Nephila edulis. The video can be found here – http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/video/2013/jan/12/fritz-vollrath-spider-silk-video.
My first reaction to this was disgust as I thought the spider had been killed. It turns out the spider was not dead but just sedated with carbon dioxide. My second question was what possible reason could there be? Fritz Vollrath is the scientist behind these experiments. He says that he would use the silk for medical reasons “for anything from knee replacements to heart transplants”.
My only worry really is that nowhere does it mention whether the spider is in discomfort (which it obviously would be) and what measures have been taken to minimise this. As a Zoology graduate I know that this will probably have been considered and measures will be in place. I think these should be explained in the video or article.
Another thought springs to mind. The number of people who hate spiders means that if these spiders were being treated badly the sympathy level would be extremely low. It seems that animals must be fluffy and cute for people to react to their pain. I myself consider all animals to be of equal importance and think that no animal should be caused discomfort or pain for our benefit.
What do you think? Should animals be used for human benefit or do they deserve more respect?