THE HUMAN BODY SHOP by Andrew Kimbrell


The Engineering and Marketing of Life
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 Given the title here, as well as the foreword by Jeremy Rifkin (biotechnology's most ardent antagonist), readers are well advised concerning the content of this polemic by the policy director of Rifkin's Foundation on Economic Trends. Like Ruth Hubbard and Elijah Wald in Exploding the Gene Myth (reviewed above), Kimbrell rings the alarm against genetic R&D and, in general, the ``commodification'' of the body--the commercial traffic in human body parts. But unlike Hubbard-Wald, Kimbrell inveighs against all forms of buying and selling--including blood donations, organ transplants, artificial insemination, and surrogate motherhood. The author relates sad tales of exploitation of the poor for the benefit of the rich, together with some truly horrendous accounts of the trials and failures of infertile couples to achieve parenthood (raising a question about the extent to which humans will submit to such ordeals). The case is well and truly made for regulating, if not banning, the baby-broker business and assorted in-vitro fertilization laboratories. Elsewhere, however, we find researchers considered no better than exploiters and fast- buck artists out to use fetuses as transplant material or to produce babies to order--assuming, as Kimbrell does, that it's only a matter of time before genes for IQ or beauty will be found. The author concludes with a philosophical review that finds Descartes the culprit in reducing bodies to machines and that extols the virtue of gift-giving and reverence for the body. Kimbrell sends a meaningful message--but at the price of dismissing any good to come from genetics research in favor of pietistic nay-saying.

Pub Date: May 1st, 1993
ISBN: 0-06-250524-6
Page count: 357pp
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15th, 1993


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