Post Natural Organisms of the EU

Van Mensvoort
August 25th 2012

If you happen to be in the neighborhood you might want to drop by at the exhibition Post Natural Organisms of the European Union in Amsterdam. The small but delicate expo, curated by the good people of the Center for Post Natural History, presents eleven specimens of organisms that were intentionally altered by humans via domestication, selective breeding or genetic engineering. Think alcoholic rats, genetically modified wheat, a chihuahua, anti-malarial mosquitoes and a rib-less mouse embryo (image above).

From a nextnature perspective, the term postnatural is chosen somewhat naively, as it suggest the end of nature due to human influence: such thinking in a hard boundary between the untouched, harmonic and inherently good old nature that existed before the sinful, spoiling, perverted humans arrived on the scene and turned Nature into post-Nature, is still surprisingly salonfähig even though it resonates more with a Christian creationist notion of the sinful Adam & Eve after being kicked out of paradise than with Darwin's evolutionary insights of nature as a open-ended dynamic force that constantly changes – and in which human activity is now an important factor.

Besides the criticisms on terminology, the expo gives a fascinating insight in our human impact on the planet – we were here is written all over – and contributes to the shift from the question: "May we intervene in Nature?" (Answer: We have been doing this for centuries, it is in our human nature to do so) to the question: "When and How should we intervene in Nature?", which opens up the discussion on practical and ethical guidelines, methodologies, risks and opportunities.

With every specimen in the expo one could ask the question: "Does it enrich humanity and the biosphere as a whole or not?" Bring your kids! Open until 17th of September at Waag Society Amsterdam.

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Lisa Mandemaker: Using an artificial womb could lead to more equality between sexes, but also between different family layouts. If men would be able to give birth to children, it would maybe be easier for male same-sex couples to have a child together.

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