So you think you own your body?

Posted by Marcy Darnovsky May 1, 2008
Biopolitical Times
Donna Dickenson is a British scholar, award-winning writer, and activist. Her just-published book, Body Shopping: The Economy Fuelled by Flesh and Blood, makes a compelling case not just against the burgeoning business in body parts, but also for our ability to rethink it.

Body Shopping weaves together sharp policy analysis with stories that will startle even those who follow such matters. Its topics include the global markets in baby-making, eggs, and human tissues; the legal and social challenges of regulating them; and the effects of their rampant commercialization on science and medicine. It's disturbing reading, but with a hopeful message, perhaps best summarized by a subtitle in the chapter on patenting human genes: "Resistance is not futile."

In a recent op-ed in The Sunday Times, Dickenson addresses the troubling changes now underway in the UK's Human Fertilization and Embryology Authority:
Even some American commentators are beginning to remark pityingly that our HFEA is no longer the model that their country should emulate. And many Europeans, rightly or wrongly, already regard the UK as having few moral scruples when it comes to the biotech industry.

By taking an uncritical approach to the market developments that this new bill should be regulating, some secularists are playing straight into the hands of a greater potential enemy to scientific progress than God. I'm referring to the increasingly powerful forces of commercialisation….

[T]he commercialisation of biotechnology needs proper examination. The problem is that parliament is too busy arguing about God to pay much attention.