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Massachusetts Medical Society




Waste is not always what it seems. In his Cold War novel Underworld, for example, Don DeLillo explores the multifaceted qualities of waste. “Waste,” he notes, “is the secret history, the underhistory, the way archaeologists dig out the history of early cultures, every sort of bone and broken tool, literally from under the ground.”1 And waste can also be transformed into money:

They are trading garbage in the commodity pits in Chicago. They are making synthetic feces in Dallas. You can sell your testicles to a firm in Russia that will give you four thousand dollars and then remove the items surgically and mash them up and extract the vital substances and market the resulting syrupy stuff as rejuvenating beauty cream, for a profit that is awesome.


From The New England Journal of Medicine, George J. Annas, Waste and Longing: The Legal Status of Placental Blood Banking, Volume 340, Page 1521 Copyright ©(1999) Massachusetts Medical Society. Reprinted with permission.

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