Cord-farms and personal biological insurance
November 16, 2006, 1:51 pm
Filed under: Medicine, Philosophy, Philosophy of Science

Wired reports that LifeCell are planning to open a publicly accessible bank of stem cells collected from umbilical cords in India. Since donors would be paid for their contributions there are fears that a “cord-farm” culture could emerge amongst the poor. Wired also reports that:

For the past two years, LifeCell has run a private cord-blood bank, which caters to 4,000 paying donors who can afford their own personal biological insurance policy. Its customers bank their own blood in case they need a stem-cell treatment one day and can’t find a viable donor. In a collaboration with Florida-based CryoCell, LifeCell has aggressively expanded to 19 locations throughout India. It plans to have 31 centers up and running by 2007.[Source]

Since people are already storing eggs and sperm in case of medical problems late in life the wealthy will soon need managers to administer their growing portfolio of externalised biotech self-maintenence strategies. At least two groups of philosophers should be paying attention of these developments:

  1. Philosophers of mind working with the ‘extended cognition/mind’ thesis.
  2. Systems theorists working with the theory of autopoeisis.

To what extent are these developments extensions of the self-maintenance systems that articulate agents? Are these instances of somatic self-maintenance tasks migrating from lower level systems into cognitive strategies?


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