Why using human bodies as crop fertilizer is actually a terrible idea

Discussion in 'General Science & Technology' started by DQVOID, Jan 10, 2023.

  1. DQVOID Registered Member

    Hi everyone! It's come to my attention that several US States have recently legalized human composting, most recently New York: https://abcnews.go.com/amp/US/wireStory/new-york-oks-human-composting-law-6th-state-96014304

    It is the 6th US State to give it the go-ahead. The claim is that it is a more eco-friendly option. Some organizations appear to be looking to use human composting to grow crops. https://www.wired.com/story/body-farms-human-composting-climate-change/ Seems fair enough, but there are several issues with this that I'm not seeing being brought to the table, and I will outline them in my post.

    This idea, as it is, would be a fairly decent idea if prion diseases did not exist.


    Prion proteins would not be destroyed during the composting process. They require extremely high temperatures over a period of many hours to be destroyed. An autoclave in pressurized steam has only been found to be 'somewhat' effective in destroying prion proteins.

    Companies such as Recompose claim that persons who have died of prion disease will be excluded from the composting process.

    But this claim on its own has issues.

    The incubation period for prion disease, in humans, can last years - even decades. Most (around 85%) of prion disease in humans is sporadic - and not caused through exposure to infected meat: https://www.vdh.virginia.gov/epidem...sheets/creutzfeldt-jakob-disease-cjd/?pdf=895

    'It can take 15 months–30 years or more for symptoms to appear. Most of the time, there is no exposure to pinpoint. Rather, it is thought that something happens to make a normal prion change to a form that can causes disease, with no environmental source of infection.''

    During the incubation period, there are no symptoms. A diagnosis of prion disease is only made once symptoms show. If a person were to die during this asymptomatic incubation period from reasons unrelated to prions, then they would not be put down as a prion victim under the exclusion standard.

    ''The identification of vCJD infection in 4 individuals who had received red cell transfusions from
    vCJD-infected donors strongly suggests that blood is
    infectious during the incubation period for vCJD.
    Since donations from asymptomatic donors who subsequently died from vCJD were also used for
    plasma processing in the UK.''

    Now, about crops. There is evidence that plants can take up prions if said plants were grown in soil close to where an animal that had died of a prion disease was buried:

    ''Prions in plants[edit]
    In 2015, researchers at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston found that plants can be a vector for prions. When researchers fed hamsters grass that grew on ground where a deer that died with chronic wasting disease (CWD) was buried, the hamsters became ill with CWD, suggesting that prions can bind to plants, which then take them up into the leaf and stem structure, where they can be eaten by herbivores, thus completing the cycle. It is thus possible that there is a progressively accumulating number of prions in the environment.[83][84]''

    As we have learned from the COVID pandemic, we need to take disease transmission seriously. One of the reasons that COVID (in its early days) was not contained was because only people with symptoms/a COVID diagnosis were quarantined. What we eventually learned was that the people with diagnosed COVID were the ''tip of the iceberg'', and cases were still spreading despite efforts to quarantine. If more countries operated under the assumption that COVID could spread asymptomatically, then perhaps things would have been different. It doesn't hurt to be cautious.

    Perhaps there is some scientific basis for ancient people refusing to grow crops on burial grounds after all?
    Last edited: Jan 10, 2023
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  3. C C Consular Corps - "the backbone of diplomacy" Valued Senior Member

    Yah, whether it's business or government bureaucracy/agency in charge of safety standards, you can bet some degree of whatever _X_ will slip through the net.

    Still, does it even remotely approach the risk of 1.35 million salmonella infections each year? Apparently a sufficient number of "influenced" researchers, evaluators and lobbied legislatures feel that it doesn't.

    From the article: "For Fischer, this alternative, green method of burial aligns with his philosophical view on life: to live in an environmentally conscious way."​

    Sounds like another budding, viral ritualistic practice. Quasi-spiritual or "feel-good" tendencies which a secular orientation can be just as afflicted with (in its own way) as its religious counterpart.

    As soon as a rite or procedure gets officially branded as a legit custom of a recognized sub-culture or population group (thanks occasionally to commercial exploitation feeding it), the postmodern administrators of today will want to enact policies that are nobly inclusive and protective of that fantasy belief, fashionable nonsense, theatrical ceremony, etc.

    So essentially, lotza luck trying to halt or slow the practice, especially further down the road.
    DQVOID likes this.
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  5. DQVOID Registered Member

    Seems that way, doesn't it? But I do wonder if perhaps the ancient people had some scientific basis for refusing to grow crops on burial grounds. As the saying goes, there's no smoke without fire.

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    Perhaps those 'curses' were infectious diseases of some kind?

    Either way, I'm sure there's better (and perhaps more era-appropriate) methods of disposing of human bodies which do not put the rest of humanity at risk of an infectious disease that kills 100% of those infected with it.
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