I Wanna Deliver A Dolphin... concept for humans
giving birth to their food by Ai Hasegawa

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This synthetic biology project by designer Ai Hasegawa imagines that a woman could gestate and give birth to a baby from another species, in this case a dolphin, before eating it (+ movie).

I Wanna Deliver A Dolphin by Ai Hasegawa

I Wanna Deliver a Dolphin... was developed by Ai Hasegawa to tackle food shortages and satisfy maternal instincts as the human population burgeons by giving women the option to become surrogates for endangered animals hunted for food.

Hasegawa proposes synthesising a placenta that could support an animal in a human womb.

"This project approaches the problem of human reproduction in an age of overcrowding, overdevelopment and environmental crisis," Hasegawa said. "With potential food shortages and a population of nearly seven billion people, would a woman consider incubating and giving birth to an endangered species such as a shark, tuna or dolphin?"

I Wanna Deliver A Dolphin by Ai Hasegawa

The designer also questions whether someone would feel differently about eating a delicacy having personally carried and nurtured it.

"Would raising this animal as a child change its value so drastically that we would be unable to consume it because it would be imbued with the love of motherhood?" asked Hasegawa.

As a case study for the concept Hasegawa chose the Maui's dolphin, one of the world's smallest and most rare species of dolphin that has been critically endangered as a consequence of human fishing.

I Wanna Deliver A Dolphin by Ai Hasegawa

A Maui's dolphin is roughly the same size as a human baby and is regarded as highly intelligent.

For a woman to gestate a dolphin, Hasegawa proposes biologically modifying a placenta to prevent the passage of antibodies from mother to baby that attack non-human cells.

"The placenta originates from the baby's side, which in this case is a dolphin, and not from the human side," said Hasegawa. "This avoids the ethical and legal difficulties associated with reproductive research involving human eggs."

The "dolp-human" placenta would be altered to distinguish between mammal and non-mammal cells, rather than human and other cells, so the foetus would escape attack from the antibodies.

I Wanna Deliver A Dolphin by Ai Hasegawa

After birth, the mother would have to administer fat-rich synthesised milk to the baby to build it's immune system, which a dolphin would naturally get from its mother's milk rather than via the placenta.

Hasegawa first showed the idea at the Royal College of Art graduate show earlier this year and the project is currently on display as part of Grow Your Own... Life After Nature, an exhibition of synthetic biology projects at the Science Gallery in Dublin.

The exhibition also features synthetic living creatures that could be released into the wild to save endangered species and a proposal to use animal cells to print new types of organs for preventing heart attacks or strokes.

Here's the information from Ai Hasegawa:


I Wanna Deliver A Dolphin...

Humans are genetically predisposed to raise children as a way of passing on their genes to the next generation. For some, the struggle to raise a child in decent conditions is becoming harder due to gross overpopulation and an increasingly strained global environment.

This project approaches the problem of human reproduction in an age of overcrowding, overdevelopment and environmental crisis. With potential food shortages and a population of nearly seven billion people, would a woman consider incubating and giving birth to an endangered species such as a shark, tuna or dolphin? This project introduces the argument for giving birth to our food to satisfy our demands for nutrition and childbirth, and discusses some of the technical details of how this might be possible.

Would raising this animal as a child change its value so drastically that we would be unable to consume it because it would be imbued with the love of motherhood? The Maui's dolphin has been chosen as the ideal "baby" for this piece. It is one of the world's rarest and smallest dolphins, classified critically endangered by the International Union for Conservation's Red List of Threatened Species (version 2.3) because of the side effects of fishing activity by humans, its size (which closely matches the size of a human baby), and its high intelligence level and communication abilities.

I Wanna Deliver a Dolphin... imagines a point in the future, where humans will help this species by the advanced technology of synthetic biology. A "dolp-human placenta" that allows a human female to deliver a dolphin is created, and thus humans can become a surrogate mother to endangered species. Furthermore, gourmets would be able to enjoy the luxury of eating a rare animal: an animal made by their own body, raising questions of the ownership of rare animal life, and life itself.

I Wanna Deliver A Dolphin by Ai Hasegawa
Diagram of dolphin foetus in a human womb plus explanation - click for larger image

Synthetic Dolp-human Placenta

To make it possible for a human mother to deliver a dolphin from her womb, there is a need to synthesise "The Dolp-human Placenta". The usual human placenta interacts to pass from mother to baby oxygen, carbon dioxide, nutrients, hormones, antibodies (Immunoglobulin Gamma, IgG) and so on. The Dolp-human placenta blocks the delivery of IgG to the baby.

The placenta originates from the baby's side, which in this case is a dolphin, and not from the human side. This avoids the ethical and legal difficulties associated with reproductive research involving human eggs.

The decidua is formed by implantation of the egg. Usually, foreign cells in the body (for example from other individuals) are attacked by the immune system, but inside the decidua they are tolerated. However, even though the decidua accepts cells from other individuals, non-human cells would still be attacked. In the dolp-human placenta case, it has been modified to distinguish mammal from non-mammal cells, making it even more tolerant.

  • Jungle Julie

    Not even remotely meaningful. Prime example of designing crap. Do something useful please.

  • Nick

    Very weird and pointless piece of work. Only really on here to shock and “trigger debate”.

  • ora

    This project is nearly one and a half years old now. Shown in the 2012 RCA show. So much for design news.

  • Zaedrus

    Looks like they’ll have to re-make The Cove.

  • can

    It is an art display, a poem. It is made to delight with fantasy, with a far away echo of reality. Dream and something will happen around your dream.

  • oyster

    Is this architecture or design?

  • fawnster

    What mom would want to eat her offspring. It’s too bad the gentlemen are left out from this wonderful experience.

  • Ruth _

    Utterly ridiculous. I’d call it psychotic thinking really.

  • Poppie

    It makes me feel sick.

  • bonsaiman

    As a concept, it is silly. To call it design is even sillier. Even “anything goes” must have some criteria.

  • Flipper

    Why don’t we just eat babies.

  • shaurz

    WTF. Sickening.

  • alex

    I see nothing controversial about this.

  • kris

    Science in the wrong hands. Utterly useless! Why don’t you create something that makes humans averse to eat animals in the first place?

    • Guilherme Parolin

      Well, actually this idea has the potential to make people think twice before continuing to eat animals.

  • Laura

    This is so f**ed up I can’t even start to comment.

  • julesdeau

    Thank goodness Mother Nature will stop this folly because man-kind is nuts.

  • New British Design

    If she could fit in a canning plant – this would be awesome.

  • l_G

    Why not have similar species as a surrogate if it is about reproduction of endangered species.

  • Minaki Koi

    If the fate of human species ends up with us having to give birth and then eat our own offspring, we are better off extinct.

  • http://dailygrail.com/ Red Pill Junkie
  • Marie OJibway Pinto

    Jesus come now your children are becoming an abomination!

  • Disc

    Silly gimmick, utterly vacuous, from every angle – design, ethics, societal. Every way you look at it, it’s a thoughtless piece of fluff.

    I feel somewhat queazy having watched the overly sexualised video of the ‘birth’ too – is the producer of this ‘work’ an artist or a self-publicist?

  • kate

    Nooooooooooooooo Dezeen. Why? :'(

  • Um.No.

    Because women looooove giving birth. It’s great fun!

  • Gab

    RCA goes on cranking out insane scientists not designers! The Frankenstein project would have been well rewarded there.

  • dc

    The very concept is monstrous and disgusting.

  • Ah Tell Yuh Hwat

    The sick part, is crap

  • Ah Tell Yuh Hwat

    This is disturbing. This just places women as objects. Why? Because you’re using their womb as “growing spaces” then eating it. You can’t just use people and eat their babies like that. It’s disturbing beyond belief and shows a lack of care or even regard for females of any species.