7.5.04

TRANSGENIC ART - Firm plans human DNA tree memorial in the form of transgenic tombstones

The idea was born as a student project at the Royal College of Arts, London and is now trying to develop into a commercial venture (Biopresence)

First, some skin cells would be obtained from the person concerned, then the extracted DNA would be injected into a single apple tree cell which would be grown into a small plant, ready for planting. In principle, every cell of the tree would contain a copy the human DNA ("silenced" in order to allow the normal growth and function of the tree). Before it can actually sell its services, the company would have to satisfy the government's regulatory system for genetically modified organisms.

COMMENT: Mr Tremmel, the company's founder, says that the trees will cost around £20,000 and that "it's cheap for eternal life" which is plainly wrong on two accounts: first, twenty grand ain't cheap in my book. Second, and much more important, survival of DNA does not in any way equate to survival of the individual - hasn't the repruductive cloning debate buried that old chestnut once and for all?! The whole exercise is kind of interesting from an extropian point of view, as an example of transgenic art, but let's not mistake it for an attempt at immortality... To be fair, the people behind the project declared that "we are intrigued by the ability of the project to raise question about the borders of the self, the meaning of death, and the possibility of eternal life" and that's definitively something worth talking about.

Biopresence

A Guardian article on the topic: Firm plans human DNA tree memorial

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