Sunday, July 31, 2005

Commodification with a human face

I'm stunned how quick many Democrats and Liberals latched on to stem cell research considering how they're otherwise railing against corporations and globalization. Ron Reagan presented it as pretty much you're for-us-or-a-bum issue at the Democratic convention in Boston,
In a few months, we will face a choice. Yes, between two candidates and two parties, but more than that. We have a chance to take a giant stride forward for the good of all humanity. We can choose between the future and the past, between reason and ignorance, between true compassion and mere ideology. This is our moment, and we must not falter.

Here's an abstract from an English Comrade who despite the wordy Marxist jargon clearly sees where this could go without careful thought and supervison. I'm not sure it should be done at all regardless of benefits.
One effect of late capitalism--the commodification of practically everything--is to knock down the Chinese walls between the natural and productive realms, to use a Marxist framework. Women's labour in egg extraction and 'surrogate' motherhood might then be seen as what it is, labour which produces something of value. But this does not necessarily mean that women will benefit from the commodification of practically everything, in either North or South. In the newly developing biotechnologies involving stem cells, the reverse is more likely, particular given the the shortage in the North of the egg donors who will be increasingly necessary to therapeutic cloning. Although most of the ethical debate has focused on the status of the embryo, this is to define ethics with no reference to global or gender justice. There has been little or no debate about possible exploitation of women, particularly of ovum donors from the South. Countries of the South without national ethics committees or guidelines may be particularly vulnerable: although there is increasing awareness of the susceptibility of poorer countries to abuses in research ethics, very little has been written about how they might be affected by the enormously profitable new technologies exploiting human tissue. Even in the UK, although the new Medical Research Council guidelines make a good deal of the 'gift relationship', what they are actually about is commodification. If donors believe they are demonstrating altruism, but biotechnology firms and researchers use the discourse of commodity and profit, we have not 'incomplete commodification' but complete commodification with a plausibly human face.[my emphaisis]

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