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Man-Eating Mushrooms

An artist suggests that being buried in a suit laden with decomposing fungi may be healthier for the mind and the environment.

By | September 9, 2011

© JAE RHIM LEE

Artist Jae Rhim Lee thinks we’re going about death all wrong. We dress up our deceased loved ones in their favorite outfits (or ours), embalm them with chemicals like formaldehyde (which the US Department of Health and Human Services recently upgraded from a probable carcinogen to a known carcinogen), and put them in a box (with a grave liner) before putting them in the ground. All of these things aim “to preserve the body and protect it from the environment, with the idea that decomposition is something to be avoided,” Lee says. “And it’s a losing battle. Funeral directors will claim that the body will be preserved, and of course it’s not true.”

Lee says she suspects that modern, Western burial ritual is really just a way to distance ourselves from death—and thus our own mortality. She suggests that we should embrace decomposition and has launched the Infinity Burial Project as a way to encourage and accelerate the process. Lee, who did her graduate work in the visual arts program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where she maintains an independent research fellowship, is developing a mushroom strain that is specifically trained to digest the tissues of the human body. She's even designed a prototype of a burial suit that can be seeded with the mushroom’s spores.

Mobile laboratory for fungi culture
Mobile laboratory for fungi culture
© JAE RHIM LEE

“It’s definitely a concept that would be workable,” says microbial ecologist Scott Bates of the University of Colorado at Boulder. There’s no doubt fungi can decay human flesh, he says, pointing to the example of Mark Tatum, a patient from Kentucky who lost a portion of his face to an aggressive Mucormycosis infection in 2000. “Fungi are certainly masters at producing extracellular enzymes that are going to be involved in breaking down [organic] components.”

Starting with edible fungi, such as oyster mushrooms, Lee runs a small-scale selective breeding program in a DIY lab, a sterile area in her home where she collects her own discarded body tissues (hair, skin, nails, etc.), and incorporates them into the culture medium for the mushrooms. The project is still in the early stages, and she says she doesn’t yet have any data to share on how well the fungi are at breaking down the tissues. But she’s hopeful that by selecting the most effective strains to breed, she will evolve an efficient man-eating mushroom.

The burial suit Lee's developed is a cotton body covering made with crocheted netting, into which a liquid mixture of mushroom spores can be embedded.

In addition to helping decompose the body more quickly, Lee expects that the fungi will help break down some of the toxins in the body. A national biomonitoring program hosted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has identified 219 toxic chemicals in the body, she says. “It really points to the fact that our bodies are pretty toxic.”

Jae Rhim Lee wearing the Mushroom Death Suit
Jae Rhim Lee wearing the Mushroom Death Suit
MICKEY SIEGEL

There are a few concerns, however, says Glenys McGowan of the School of Social Science at the University of Queensland in Australia. How, for example, will the new fungi strain affect the existing soil organisms when introduced into the ground in potentially high concentrations in a cemetery? “Introducing a large volume of a particular species of fungus into a soil environment might have the effect of unbalancing the natural soil biota of that area,” she wrote in an email. Indeed, such accumulation of naturally-occurring fungi already exists in some cemeteries.

Furthermore, there is the question of effectiveness. “Are there fungi that can decay human bodies? For sure. And could those strains be developed? Yeah, they likely could. But is it more effective than nature?” wonders Bates. “If you just put a dead body in the soil, the environment would take care of that.”

Then, of course, there are the religious and spiritual matters to consider, McGowan says.  “If nothing remains of the body, how will the dead be commemorated?”

But Lee maintains that her fungal method of burial could be just as meaningful as placing flowers on a casket. "The body is this daily reminder that we are mortal," she says. "The burial project came about partially because I was thinking about a way of building [a] kind of intimacy with the body and acceptance of these basic processes of physicality and mortality of the body."

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Avatar of: Rga

Anonymous

September 9, 2011

Cremation eliminates the problem - everything is reduced to a small urn of ash - you can take your loved ones home, if you relocate they can go with you, if they had a favorite place their ashes can be spread there.  I know thet if we all did this it would really "wack" the funeral industry and the casket / burial vault suppliers.

We should return to nature as a non toxic dust as in "ashes to ashes, dust to dust"

This may be too simple. 

Avatar of: A"

Anonymous

September 9, 2011

Fungi's, have been at work for as long as the World has been here. They don't  need help from man to take us away from here.

Avatar of: Millsal

Anonymous

September 9, 2011

Although most fungi have proteolytic enzymes, the dominant function of fungi in soil and water is the decomposition of carbohydrates and a number of polyaromatics. Fungi are essential in the decay of plant material, especially woody substances with high concentrations of cellulose and lignin. Bacteria are the primary decomposers of protein. Somehow this effort seems misinformed. As several before me have indicated, the ashes to ashes approach of cremation would seem to serve the same purpose that is espoused by Ms. Lee, and is probably a much more efficient way to go. Plus it takes up less space on the landscape

Avatar of: Thomas Hering

Anonymous

September 9, 2011

Since I have consumed large quantities of mushrooms over the years, I suppose there is a nice symmetry to giving the fungus a chance to get even. I don't think I have ever seen anything as odd as a "mushroom death suit". I hope this isn't being funded by the National Endowment for the Arts...or maybe it would be a good thing. Give the Supercommittee some obvious targets for deficit reduction, so they leave real research alone!

Avatar of: Blackdogyb

Anonymous

September 9, 2011

We don't need another fungus that is good a decomposing human flesh - if it's good at dead bodies it might also be good at living - look at the mucormycosis example in the article.  And with lots of it in a cemetery it could become a dangerous place to visit.  Not to mention those escaping spores.  I agree - burial in plain cloth or old fashioned cremation (which also deals with contagious organisms incidentally)

Avatar of: Mushroom lover

Anonymous

September 9, 2011

I would go with morels or chanterelles.  What fun it would be to go morel collecting in the graveyard!  Unfortunately the natural varieties are symbiotic with living tree roots.  So just plant me under an apple tree and I'll decompose happily without any added ingredients.

Avatar of: Yankedudel

Anonymous

September 9, 2011

At least decayer only attacks dead things unlike flesh eating bacteria. Unless it is genetically altered,,,,,,, hmmm,, can't wait for the movie!

Avatar of: GI

Anonymous

September 9, 2011

This doesn't seem right. How about those spores scaping from her DIY lab? What a waste of creativity!!

Avatar of: Dr. NutMan

Anonymous

September 9, 2011

Since fungi are predominantly aerobic organisms, I would anticipate that burial at any significant death would largely preclude their metabolic activity for any length of time.  Anaerobic bacteria probably serve a greater function in decomposition of human/animal bodies than would fungi.

Avatar of: Dr. NutMan

Anonymous

September 9, 2011

Oops.  That should have read "burial at any significant depth", not 'death'.

Avatar of: Tom

Anonymous

September 9, 2011

So now the "artiste"??? is going to tell us how to decompose? Mushrooms? What's next, potatoes and carrots? Go back to the drawing board and stay out of the cemetery.

Avatar of: Tom2

Anonymous

September 9, 2011

That's a bit harsh.  Great ideas come from everywhere, not just from scientists.  As an artist, she offers a unique prospective unbound by standard scientific ideologies. Furthermore, Fungi are excellent decomposers and a logical candidate to decompose the human corpse. Seeding the body with an organism (or organisms) that speed up the decaying process will limit the risk of a potentially harmful microbe utilizing the dead body and contaminating the land or possibly near by water sources. 

Avatar of: Shanna

Anonymous

September 9, 2011

I agree with GI that developing a strain of fungus that is specifically good at digesting human tissues is potentially dangerous, but also it's unnecessary.  There are plenty of naturally-occuring fungi that could (and do) easily digest dead human bodies over time.  Just like they digest other organic matter.  I don't think that selective breeding is really needed.  I DO really like the idea of natural burials though.  Trying to "save" a dead loved one's body is pretty grusome, really.  The idea that you need a dead body to be present in the ground to commemorate someone is rediculous!

Avatar of: Nigel

Anonymous

September 9, 2011

From the title it sounds like it's the fungus that's decomposing, not the body

Avatar of: Madhu Thangavelu

Madhu Thangavelu

Posts: 4

September 9, 2011

Very creative, indeed. Make those fungi happy !
Hey, what about plain old cremation ?...it appears this age-old method is gaining ground over burial ? Quicker, cleaner and ashes for memorial uses.

Avatar of: Renee Judd

Anonymous

September 9, 2011

Starting with edible mushrooms? Hmmmm, brings back images of Soylent Green.  Seriously, coming from an ethnic background that does not embalm bodies and instead buries them simply in natural, decomposable covering, I am comfortable with the idea of embracing decomposition. (Some living persons even wear a cotton garment that can serve as a burial shroud as a reminder their own mortality on certain religious occasions.) I wonder, though, what might be the ultimate consequence of deliberately selecting the the most aggressive flesh-eaters generation after generation and deliberately placing them in the environment. While, as the article points out, this selection no doubt occurs naturally in some cemeteries, the proposed plan would likely decrease the diversity of the cemetery.

I also wonder whether we would be feeling so open-minded if, instead, we had read that the Army is attempting to engineer a flesh-eating organism. Also I am thinking that a DIY lab probably does not have the sort of IRB that some of us might encounter when proposing such research.

Avatar of: Curculio

Anonymous

September 9, 2011

Up in the Tibetan plateau, bodies are disposed of by chopping them into vulture sized pieces.  This seems to be the same idea except designed for a place where a body can be buried.  

Avatar of:

Posts: 0

September 9, 2011

This doesn't seem right. How about those spores scaping from her DIY lab? What a waste of creativity!!

Avatar of:

Posts: 0

September 9, 2011

Since fungi are predominantly aerobic organisms, I would anticipate that burial at any significant death would largely preclude their metabolic activity for any length of time.  Anaerobic bacteria probably serve a greater function in decomposition of human/animal bodies than would fungi.

Avatar of:

Posts: 0

September 9, 2011

Oops.  That should have read "burial at any significant depth", not 'death'.

Avatar of:

Posts: 0

September 9, 2011

So now the "artiste"??? is going to tell us how to decompose? Mushrooms? What's next, potatoes and carrots? Go back to the drawing board and stay out of the cemetery.

Avatar of:

Posts: 0

September 9, 2011

That's a bit harsh.  Great ideas come from everywhere, not just from scientists.  As an artist, she offers a unique prospective unbound by standard scientific ideologies. Furthermore, Fungi are excellent decomposers and a logical candidate to decompose the human corpse. Seeding the body with an organism (or organisms) that speed up the decaying process will limit the risk of a potentially harmful microbe utilizing the dead body and contaminating the land or possibly near by water sources. 

Avatar of:

Posts: 0

September 9, 2011

I agree with GI that developing a strain of fungus that is specifically good at digesting human tissues is potentially dangerous, but also it's unnecessary.  There are plenty of naturally-occuring fungi that could (and do) easily digest dead human bodies over time.  Just like they digest other organic matter.  I don't think that selective breeding is really needed.  I DO really like the idea of natural burials though.  Trying to "save" a dead loved one's body is pretty grusome, really.  The idea that you need a dead body to be present in the ground to commemorate someone is rediculous!

Avatar of:

Posts: 0

September 9, 2011

From the title it sounds like it's the fungus that's decomposing, not the body

Avatar of:

Posts: 0

September 9, 2011

Very creative, indeed. Make those fungi happy !
Hey, what about plain old cremation ?...it appears this age-old method is gaining ground over burial ? Quicker, cleaner and ashes for memorial uses.

Avatar of:

Posts: 0

September 9, 2011

Starting with edible mushrooms? Hmmmm, brings back images of Soylent Green.  Seriously, coming from an ethnic background that does not embalm bodies and instead buries them simply in natural, decomposable covering, I am comfortable with the idea of embracing decomposition. (Some living persons even wear a cotton garment that can serve as a burial shroud as a reminder their own mortality on certain religious occasions.) I wonder, though, what might be the ultimate consequence of deliberately selecting the the most aggressive flesh-eaters generation after generation and deliberately placing them in the environment. While, as the article points out, this selection no doubt occurs naturally in some cemeteries, the proposed plan would likely decrease the diversity of the cemetery.

I also wonder whether we would be feeling so open-minded if, instead, we had read that the Army is attempting to engineer a flesh-eating organism. Also I am thinking that a DIY lab probably does not have the sort of IRB that some of us might encounter when proposing such research.

Avatar of:

Posts: 0

September 9, 2011

Up in the Tibetan plateau, bodies are disposed of by chopping them into vulture sized pieces.  This seems to be the same idea except designed for a place where a body can be buried.  

Avatar of:

Posts: 0

September 9, 2011

Cremation eliminates the problem - everything is reduced to a small urn of ash - you can take your loved ones home, if you relocate they can go with you, if they had a favorite place their ashes can be spread there.  I know thet if we all did this it would really "wack" the funeral industry and the casket / burial vault suppliers.

We should return to nature as a non toxic dust as in "ashes to ashes, dust to dust"

This may be too simple. 

Avatar of:

Posts: 0

September 9, 2011

Fungi's, have been at work for as long as the World has been here. They don't  need help from man to take us away from here.

Avatar of:

Posts: 0

September 9, 2011

Although most fungi have proteolytic enzymes, the dominant function of fungi in soil and water is the decomposition of carbohydrates and a number of polyaromatics. Fungi are essential in the decay of plant material, especially woody substances with high concentrations of cellulose and lignin. Bacteria are the primary decomposers of protein. Somehow this effort seems misinformed. As several before me have indicated, the ashes to ashes approach of cremation would seem to serve the same purpose that is espoused by Ms. Lee, and is probably a much more efficient way to go. Plus it takes up less space on the landscape

Avatar of:

Posts: 0

September 9, 2011

Since I have consumed large quantities of mushrooms over the years, I suppose there is a nice symmetry to giving the fungus a chance to get even. I don't think I have ever seen anything as odd as a "mushroom death suit". I hope this isn't being funded by the National Endowment for the Arts...or maybe it would be a good thing. Give the Supercommittee some obvious targets for deficit reduction, so they leave real research alone!

Avatar of:

Posts: 0

September 9, 2011

We don't need another fungus that is good a decomposing human flesh - if it's good at dead bodies it might also be good at living - look at the mucormycosis example in the article.  And with lots of it in a cemetery it could become a dangerous place to visit.  Not to mention those escaping spores.  I agree - burial in plain cloth or old fashioned cremation (which also deals with contagious organisms incidentally)

Avatar of:

Posts: 0

September 9, 2011

I would go with morels or chanterelles.  What fun it would be to go morel collecting in the graveyard!  Unfortunately the natural varieties are symbiotic with living tree roots.  So just plant me under an apple tree and I'll decompose happily without any added ingredients.

Avatar of:

Posts: 0

September 9, 2011

At least decayer only attacks dead things unlike flesh eating bacteria. Unless it is genetically altered,,,,,,, hmmm,, can't wait for the movie!

Avatar of: Krskt

Anonymous

September 9, 2011

It's a great idea. I've always said I wanted to have a tree planted over a simple pine casket, or cremation. The idea of being able to nourish a tree that would be good for the environment seems like a much better idea than ridiculous attempts to keep an old husk preserved after it's previous resident has left. Dust to dust, any effort to avoid the inevitable is delusional in the first place.

Avatar of: dannyz

Anonymous

September 9, 2011

2 notes:
1. we do embrace death, otherwise most funerals would have a closed, not open casket.
2. the embalming preserves the body so that the family has time to gather extended family and friends for the funeral.  our "tribes" no longer occupy the same small patch of land.

Avatar of: Sara M Volk

Anonymous

September 9, 2011

One of the other reasons we have caskets with waterproof linings, etc, is to prevent the spread of disease from the dead (who may have died from something contagious) to the environment (e.g., the water supply) of the living. I'm unclear whether the artist is advocating direct burial of the dead in the ground -- if so, though, I think that poses a threat to the safety of the groundwater.

Avatar of:

Posts: 0

September 9, 2011

It's a great idea. I've always said I wanted to have a tree planted over a simple pine casket, or cremation. The idea of being able to nourish a tree that would be good for the environment seems like a much better idea than ridiculous attempts to keep an old husk preserved after it's previous resident has left. Dust to dust, any effort to avoid the inevitable is delusional in the first place.

Avatar of:

Posts: 0

September 9, 2011

2 notes:
1. we do embrace death, otherwise most funerals would have a closed, not open casket.
2. the embalming preserves the body so that the family has time to gather extended family and friends for the funeral.  our "tribes" no longer occupy the same small patch of land.

Avatar of:

Posts: 0

September 9, 2011

One of the other reasons we have caskets with waterproof linings, etc, is to prevent the spread of disease from the dead (who may have died from something contagious) to the environment (e.g., the water supply) of the living. I'm unclear whether the artist is advocating direct burial of the dead in the ground -- if so, though, I think that poses a threat to the safety of the groundwater.

Avatar of:

Posts: 0

September 9, 2011

This doesn't seem right. How about those spores scaping from her DIY lab? What a waste of creativity!!

Avatar of:

Posts: 0

September 9, 2011

Since fungi are predominantly aerobic organisms, I would anticipate that burial at any significant death would largely preclude their metabolic activity for any length of time.  Anaerobic bacteria probably serve a greater function in decomposition of human/animal bodies than would fungi.

Avatar of:

Posts: 0

September 9, 2011

Oops.  That should have read "burial at any significant depth", not 'death'.

Avatar of:

Posts: 0

September 9, 2011

So now the "artiste"??? is going to tell us how to decompose? Mushrooms? What's next, potatoes and carrots? Go back to the drawing board and stay out of the cemetery.

Avatar of:

Posts: 0

September 9, 2011

That's a bit harsh.  Great ideas come from everywhere, not just from scientists.  As an artist, she offers a unique prospective unbound by standard scientific ideologies. Furthermore, Fungi are excellent decomposers and a logical candidate to decompose the human corpse. Seeding the body with an organism (or organisms) that speed up the decaying process will limit the risk of a potentially harmful microbe utilizing the dead body and contaminating the land or possibly near by water sources. 

Avatar of:

Posts: 0

September 9, 2011

I agree with GI that developing a strain of fungus that is specifically good at digesting human tissues is potentially dangerous, but also it's unnecessary.  There are plenty of naturally-occuring fungi that could (and do) easily digest dead human bodies over time.  Just like they digest other organic matter.  I don't think that selective breeding is really needed.  I DO really like the idea of natural burials though.  Trying to "save" a dead loved one's body is pretty grusome, really.  The idea that you need a dead body to be present in the ground to commemorate someone is rediculous!

Avatar of:

Posts: 0

September 9, 2011

From the title it sounds like it's the fungus that's decomposing, not the body

Avatar of:

Posts: 0

September 9, 2011

Very creative, indeed. Make those fungi happy !
Hey, what about plain old cremation ?...it appears this age-old method is gaining ground over burial ? Quicker, cleaner and ashes for memorial uses.

Avatar of:

Posts: 0

September 9, 2011

Starting with edible mushrooms? Hmmmm, brings back images of Soylent Green.  Seriously, coming from an ethnic background that does not embalm bodies and instead buries them simply in natural, decomposable covering, I am comfortable with the idea of embracing decomposition. (Some living persons even wear a cotton garment that can serve as a burial shroud as a reminder their own mortality on certain religious occasions.) I wonder, though, what might be the ultimate consequence of deliberately selecting the the most aggressive flesh-eaters generation after generation and deliberately placing them in the environment. While, as the article points out, this selection no doubt occurs naturally in some cemeteries, the proposed plan would likely decrease the diversity of the cemetery.

I also wonder whether we would be feeling so open-minded if, instead, we had read that the Army is attempting to engineer a flesh-eating organism. Also I am thinking that a DIY lab probably does not have the sort of IRB that some of us might encounter when proposing such research.

Avatar of:

Posts: 0

September 9, 2011

Up in the Tibetan plateau, bodies are disposed of by chopping them into vulture sized pieces.  This seems to be the same idea except designed for a place where a body can be buried.  

Avatar of:

Posts: 0

September 9, 2011

Cremation eliminates the problem - everything is reduced to a small urn of ash - you can take your loved ones home, if you relocate they can go with you, if they had a favorite place their ashes can be spread there.  I know thet if we all did this it would really "wack" the funeral industry and the casket / burial vault suppliers.

We should return to nature as a non toxic dust as in "ashes to ashes, dust to dust"

This may be too simple. 

Avatar of:

Posts: 0

September 9, 2011

Fungi's, have been at work for as long as the World has been here. They don't  need help from man to take us away from here.

Avatar of:

Posts: 0

September 9, 2011

Although most fungi have proteolytic enzymes, the dominant function of fungi in soil and water is the decomposition of carbohydrates and a number of polyaromatics. Fungi are essential in the decay of plant material, especially woody substances with high concentrations of cellulose and lignin. Bacteria are the primary decomposers of protein. Somehow this effort seems misinformed. As several before me have indicated, the ashes to ashes approach of cremation would seem to serve the same purpose that is espoused by Ms. Lee, and is probably a much more efficient way to go. Plus it takes up less space on the landscape

Avatar of:

Posts: 0

September 9, 2011

Since I have consumed large quantities of mushrooms over the years, I suppose there is a nice symmetry to giving the fungus a chance to get even. I don't think I have ever seen anything as odd as a "mushroom death suit". I hope this isn't being funded by the National Endowment for the Arts...or maybe it would be a good thing. Give the Supercommittee some obvious targets for deficit reduction, so they leave real research alone!

Avatar of:

Posts: 0

September 9, 2011

We don't need another fungus that is good a decomposing human flesh - if it's good at dead bodies it might also be good at living - look at the mucormycosis example in the article.  And with lots of it in a cemetery it could become a dangerous place to visit.  Not to mention those escaping spores.  I agree - burial in plain cloth or old fashioned cremation (which also deals with contagious organisms incidentally)

Avatar of:

Posts: 0

September 9, 2011

I would go with morels or chanterelles.  What fun it would be to go morel collecting in the graveyard!  Unfortunately the natural varieties are symbiotic with living tree roots.  So just plant me under an apple tree and I'll decompose happily without any added ingredients.

Avatar of:

Posts: 0

September 9, 2011

At least decayer only attacks dead things unlike flesh eating bacteria. Unless it is genetically altered,,,,,,, hmmm,, can't wait for the movie!

Avatar of:

Posts: 0

September 9, 2011

It's a great idea. I've always said I wanted to have a tree planted over a simple pine casket, or cremation. The idea of being able to nourish a tree that would be good for the environment seems like a much better idea than ridiculous attempts to keep an old husk preserved after it's previous resident has left. Dust to dust, any effort to avoid the inevitable is delusional in the first place.

Avatar of:

Posts: 0

September 9, 2011

2 notes:
1. we do embrace death, otherwise most funerals would have a closed, not open casket.
2. the embalming preserves the body so that the family has time to gather extended family and friends for the funeral.  our "tribes" no longer occupy the same small patch of land.

Avatar of:

Posts: 0

September 9, 2011

One of the other reasons we have caskets with waterproof linings, etc, is to prevent the spread of disease from the dead (who may have died from something contagious) to the environment (e.g., the water supply) of the living. I'm unclear whether the artist is advocating direct burial of the dead in the ground -- if so, though, I think that poses a threat to the safety of the groundwater.

Avatar of:

Posts: 0

September 10, 2011

yet it didnt for thousands of years. this germophobic mentality is why our immune systems are weakening with astounding rates, we need to build natural immunities, not pump ourselves full of antibiotics and we need to either cremate the dead or allow them to return to the source they came from. let go.

Avatar of:

Posts: 0

September 10, 2011

while you make some valid points, firstly the hygene hypothesis is far from proven, and secondly for most of our evolutionary history wer werent dealing with population densities like we have today. Now if you look back to more  recent history where there are high population densities, maybe 1500's to 1800s you will see that cholera epidemics and the like were common, and that in fact the microbial burdon put on a parcel of land, close to an urban city, like the cemetaries you see near new york and the like would present interesting pubic health concerns. Weather we were built to be put out this way or not, in our current state if some dead guy's microbial load leeches into your well water bad things will happen. An interesting idea for rural areas and maybe sealed cemetaries (like a landfill liner) maybe, but a solution to all, i think not.

Also, generally taking an antibiotic post-infection wouldnt hamper our immunity building, since the T and B cells have already reacted, causing the illness symptoms, and have already produced memory cells  by then. What antibiotics are concerning for is their effects on microbial populations in producing new and resilliant strains, and on the increasing rate of human allergies to common antibiotics.

Avatar of:

Posts: 0

September 10, 2011

This whole concept of Lee's is idiotic. While I resent the funeral industry and the Western paradigm that revolves around burials, the solution is SURELY not to attempt to create a potentially hazardous form of fungus! While fungus thrives primarily on plant life (living and dead), the very attempt is at best idiotic and at worst-unethical.

Avatar of:

Posts: 0

September 10, 2011

yet it didnt for thousands of years. this germophobic mentality is why our immune systems are weakening with astounding rates, we need to build natural immunities, not pump ourselves full of antibiotics and we need to either cremate the dead or allow them to return to the source they came from. let go.

Avatar of:

Posts: 0

September 10, 2011

while you make some valid points, firstly the hygene hypothesis is far from proven, and secondly for most of our evolutionary history wer werent dealing with population densities like we have today. Now if you look back to more  recent history where there are high population densities, maybe 1500's to 1800s you will see that cholera epidemics and the like were common, and that in fact the microbial burdon put on a parcel of land, close to an urban city, like the cemetaries you see near new york and the like would present interesting pubic health concerns. Weather we were built to be put out this way or not, in our current state if some dead guy's microbial load leeches into your well water bad things will happen. An interesting idea for rural areas and maybe sealed cemetaries (like a landfill liner) maybe, but a solution to all, i think not.

Also, generally taking an antibiotic post-infection wouldnt hamper our immunity building, since the T and B cells have already reacted, causing the illness symptoms, and have already produced memory cells  by then. What antibiotics are concerning for is their effects on microbial populations in producing new and resilliant strains, and on the increasing rate of human allergies to common antibiotics.

Avatar of: Vaxination

Anonymous

September 10, 2011

yet it didnt for thousands of years. this germophobic mentality is why our immune systems are weakening with astounding rates, we need to build natural immunities, not pump ourselves full of antibiotics and we need to either cremate the dead or allow them to return to the source they came from. let go.

Avatar of: spatev

spatev

Posts: 1

September 10, 2011

while you make some valid points, firstly the hygene hypothesis is far from proven, and secondly for most of our evolutionary history wer werent dealing with population densities like we have today. Now if you look back to more  recent history where there are high population densities, maybe 1500's to 1800s you will see that cholera epidemics and the like were common, and that in fact the microbial burdon put on a parcel of land, close to an urban city, like the cemetaries you see near new york and the like would present interesting pubic health concerns. Weather we were built to be put out this way or not, in our current state if some dead guy's microbial load leeches into your well water bad things will happen. An interesting idea for rural areas and maybe sealed cemetaries (like a landfill liner) maybe, but a solution to all, i think not.

Also, generally taking an antibiotic post-infection wouldnt hamper our immunity building, since the T and B cells have already reacted, causing the illness symptoms, and have already produced memory cells  by then. What antibiotics are concerning for is their effects on microbial populations in producing new and resilliant strains, and on the increasing rate of human allergies to common antibiotics.

Avatar of:

Posts: 0

September 10, 2011

This whole concept of Lee's is idiotic. While I resent the funeral industry and the Western paradigm that revolves around burials, the solution is SURELY not to attempt to create a potentially hazardous form of fungus! While fungus thrives primarily on plant life (living and dead), the very attempt is at best idiotic and at worst-unethical.

Avatar of: unbeliever

Anonymous

September 10, 2011

This whole concept of Lee's is idiotic. While I resent the funeral industry and the Western paradigm that revolves around burials, the solution is SURELY not to attempt to create a potentially hazardous form of fungus! While fungus thrives primarily on plant life (living and dead), the very attempt is at best idiotic and at worst-unethical.

Avatar of: Amperro

Anonymous

September 11, 2011

When is science going to address the issue of death and stop allowing it to be monopolized by the philosophers, poets, and theologians?

Avatar of: Brandy Willis

Anonymous

September 11, 2011

Are there not risks to having this 'new' fungi evolving into an airborne and fresh flesh eating fungi? Sounds like she should stick to arts and crafts; not science.

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Posts: 0

September 11, 2011

When is science going to address the issue of death and stop allowing it to be monopolized by the philosophers, poets, and theologians?

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Posts: 0

September 11, 2011

Are there not risks to having this 'new' fungi evolving into an airborne and fresh flesh eating fungi? Sounds like she should stick to arts and crafts; not science.

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Posts: 0

September 11, 2011

When is science going to address the issue of death and stop allowing it to be monopolized by the philosophers, poets, and theologians?

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Posts: 0

September 11, 2011

Are there not risks to having this 'new' fungi evolving into an airborne and fresh flesh eating fungi? Sounds like she should stick to arts and crafts; not science.

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Posts: 0

September 12, 2011

Cool!  Visit your loved one's grave.  Take home mushrooms for dinner!

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Posts: 0

September 12, 2011

This is definitely not a good idea.  The "new" fungus would pose a hazard to the living.

Probably the best solution is still cremation.

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Posts: 0

September 12, 2011

 I can see from the other comments I wasn't the first person to react to the idea of selectively breeding human flesh-eating fungi with mild horror!

I'm trying to be open minded about this but I'm not sure why it matters how quickly or slowly you decompose, its going to happen either way.

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Posts: 0

September 12, 2011

Never heard of a more stupendously stupid idea: Inserting a human flesh eating mutant fungus into mother nature's unpredictable ecosystem. That's something so unbelievably stupid I wouldn't dream it would have any support within medical and scientific research, or even  be posted on the web as news. How many times humankind must pay with life because of relentless serial stupidity. This fungus can spread out like a plague and eat us up if anything goes wrong. I'm an MD and I have seen plenty of irresponsible individuals jeopardizing humankind with outrageously dangerous research. The "artist" could be the first guinea pig of her own idea if she's careless with hear "creation". So why not use cremation?

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Posts: 0

September 12, 2011

I have been telling people since I was a teenager (some 40yrs now) that I just want to be buried in the ground and have an oak tree planted over me. This whole thing of trying to preserve the body has never made any sense to me. Cremation doesn’t make sense either I was taught that ecology was a circle of life one thing feeding another. It doesn’t matter if the consumed is alive or dead it is meant to produce food for the next generation of life. As far as the religious aspect goes it doesn’t make sense either because the body is just a temporary vessel. When you die your spirit leaves your body and moves on. So what we do now is possibly worse for the environment than helping nature take it’s course.

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Posts: 0

September 12, 2011

Cool!  Visit your loved one's grave.  Take home mushrooms for dinner!

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Posts: 0

September 12, 2011

This is definitely not a good idea.  The "new" fungus would pose a hazard to the living.

Probably the best solution is still cremation.

Avatar of:

Posts: 0

September 12, 2011

 I can see from the other comments I wasn't the first person to react to the idea of selectively breeding human flesh-eating fungi with mild horror!

I'm trying to be open minded about this but I'm not sure why it matters how quickly or slowly you decompose, its going to happen either way.

Avatar of:

Posts: 0

September 12, 2011

Never heard of a more stupendously stupid idea: Inserting a human flesh eating mutant fungus into mother nature's unpredictable ecosystem. That's something so unbelievably stupid I wouldn't dream it would have any support within medical and scientific research, or even  be posted on the web as news. How many times humankind must pay with life because of relentless serial stupidity. This fungus can spread out like a plague and eat us up if anything goes wrong. I'm an MD and I have seen plenty of irresponsible individuals jeopardizing humankind with outrageously dangerous research. The "artist" could be the first guinea pig of her own idea if she's careless with hear "creation". So why not use cremation?

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Posts: 0

September 12, 2011

I have been telling people since I was a teenager (some 40yrs now) that I just want to be buried in the ground and have an oak tree planted over me. This whole thing of trying to preserve the body has never made any sense to me. Cremation doesn’t make sense either I was taught that ecology was a circle of life one thing feeding another. It doesn’t matter if the consumed is alive or dead it is meant to produce food for the next generation of life. As far as the religious aspect goes it doesn’t make sense either because the body is just a temporary vessel. When you die your spirit leaves your body and moves on. So what we do now is possibly worse for the environment than helping nature take it’s course.

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See the Light

Posts: 1457

September 12, 2011

Cool!  Visit your loved one's grave.  Take home mushrooms for dinner!

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Anonymous

September 12, 2011

This is definitely not a good idea.  The "new" fungus would pose a hazard to the living.

Probably the best solution is still cremation.

Avatar of: Helen Troilo

Anonymous

September 12, 2011

 I can see from the other comments I wasn't the first person to react to the idea of selectively breeding human flesh-eating fungi with mild horror!

I'm trying to be open minded about this but I'm not sure why it matters how quickly or slowly you decompose, its going to happen either way.

Avatar of: Outraged MD

Anonymous

September 12, 2011

Never heard of a more stupendously stupid idea: Inserting a human flesh eating mutant fungus into mother nature's unpredictable ecosystem. That's something so unbelievably stupid I wouldn't dream it would have any support within medical and scientific research, or even  be posted on the web as news. How many times humankind must pay with life because of relentless serial stupidity. This fungus can spread out like a plague and eat us up if anything goes wrong. I'm an MD and I have seen plenty of irresponsible individuals jeopardizing humankind with outrageously dangerous research. The "artist" could be the first guinea pig of her own idea if she's careless with hear "creation". So why not use cremation?

Avatar of: Kevin Crist

Anonymous

September 12, 2011

I have been telling people since I was a teenager (some 40yrs now) that I just want to be buried in the ground and have an oak tree planted over me. This whole thing of trying to preserve the body has never made any sense to me. Cremation doesn’t make sense either I was taught that ecology was a circle of life one thing feeding another. It doesn’t matter if the consumed is alive or dead it is meant to produce food for the next generation of life. As far as the religious aspect goes it doesn’t make sense either because the body is just a temporary vessel. When you die your spirit leaves your body and moves on. So what we do now is possibly worse for the environment than helping nature take it’s course.

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Posts: 0

September 16, 2011

yeaa that's true, I was looked one website , which is Mongolian website  shows Tibetan traditional funeral for death person. They said that human absorb to the nature . It was a little crazy was, but at end of the result when human die human body and all organ tissues go to other animal food. http://www.caak.mn/modules.php... mushroom and antibiotic have yeast. It could destroy human organism and people could die easily

Avatar of: Surenaod

Anonymous

September 16, 2011

yeaa that's true, I was looked one website , which is Mongolian website  shows Tibetan traditional funeral for death person. They said that human absorb to the nature . It was a little crazy was, but at end of the result when human die human body and all organ tissues go to other animal food. http://www.caak.mn/modules.php... mushroom and antibiotic have yeast. It could destroy human organism and people could die easily

Avatar of:

Posts: 0

September 16, 2011

yeaa that's true, I was looked one website , which is Mongolian website  shows Tibetan traditional funeral for death person. They said that human absorb to the nature . It was a little crazy was, but at end of the result when human die human body and all organ tissues go to other animal food. http://www.caak.mn/modules.php... mushroom and antibiotic have yeast. It could destroy human organism and people could die easily

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Posts: 0

September 19, 2011

I agree with others that breeding a fungus that will digest humans can be dangerous. A cotton bag and the huge microbial diversity of the soil will be more than enough to facilitate the natural decomposition process. 

Avatar of: Jean Huang

Anonymous

September 19, 2011

I agree with others that breeding a fungus that will digest humans can be dangerous. A cotton bag and the huge microbial diversity of the soil will be more than enough to facilitate the natural decomposition process. 

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Posts: 0

September 19, 2011

I agree with others that breeding a fungus that will digest humans can be dangerous. A cotton bag and the huge microbial diversity of the soil will be more than enough to facilitate the natural decomposition process. 

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Posts: 0

October 31, 2011

Polluting the graveyard too!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Atleast let the dead bodies follow the rhythm of Nature!!!!!!!!

Avatar of: Santosh Bhaskaran

Santosh Bhaskaran

Posts: 1457

October 31, 2011

Polluting the graveyard too!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Atleast let the dead bodies follow the rhythm of Nature!!!!!!!!

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Posts: 0

October 31, 2011

Polluting the graveyard too!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Atleast let the dead bodies follow the rhythm of Nature!!!!!!!!

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