This project approaches the problem of human reproduction in an age of
over-population and environmental crisis. With potential food shortages and a population of nearly nine billion people, would a new mother consider incubating and giving birth to an endangered species such as a shark, tuna or dolphin? This project introduces a new argument for giving birth to our food to satisfy our demands for nutrition and childbirth and discusses some of the technical details of how that might be possible.
We are genetically predisposed to raise children as a way of passing on our genes to the next generation but we live in an age where the struggle to raise a child in decent conditions is becoming harder with gross over-population and difficult environmental conditions.
We must also eat, and we are equally facing growing food shortages as a result of over-fishing, land use and a growing population. By giving birth to an edible animal it might place more value on that endangered species and help prevent it’s extinction. But, would raising this animal as a child change it’s value so drastically that we would be unable to consume it because it would be imbued with the love of motherhood?
I chose the spiny dogfish “Squalus acanthias”, one of the sharks classified vulnerable, (IUCN 3.1 Red List of threatened species) because of consumption by humans. Also, because of the possibility of utilising existing technology. The technology which is medication for the mother’s body to be able to accept the fish in her womb and stress sharing system to bonding the embryo with the mother. The medicine in the skin patch which contains chemicals to stop menstruation and suppress abnormal contraction of uterus is usually used to treat threat of abortion or threat of premature birth. Also an external artificial uterus system able to use mother’s body fluid which is urine for the shark embryo intubated into her womb.
The bonding system works by sharing the mother’s stress with the shark embryo. When the mother feels stress, a device measures a galvanic skin response and heart pulse rate, translated as a “stress signal”, that triggers the low voltage electrical signal that mimics the emergence of a predator in the sea for the shark embryo. Giving such stress works as a training device for when they are returned to the sea after delivery.
Credit: Special thanks,
Dr Mark H Sullivan, Imperial College London.
Embryologist, Anastasia Mania.
Related research: RESEARCH ARTICLE, Construction and Test of an Artificial, Uterus for Ex Situ Development of Shark Embryos. By Nick Otway and Megan Ellis