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Lay an Egg, Grow an Organ
February 18, 2072
MINNEAPOLIS, MN--Consumer biosciences giant Monsanto Mills today unveiled plans to market a replacement-organ cultivation technology with a novel, consumer-friendly interface modeled on traditional agrarian processes. The as-yet unnamed product embeds organ cultivation in the familiar practice of plant husbandry, and is designed to evoke the warm, nostalgic feelings associated with America's historic farms. "The real challenge for replacement-organ cultivation isn't actually growing genetically compatible organs," explains Monsanto's VP of Human Development Eunice Freelie. "The real challenge is getting people to adopt organ cultivation as a part of their everyday lives. Our new approach will overcome some of the popular, though undeserved, aversion to organ cultivation."
The new product, packaged in wood pulp cartons reminiscent of those traditionally used to market food-grade chicken eggs, consists of a series of color-coded, egg-shaped "sample vectors," each designed to produce a particular organ system: red for kidneys, blue for a liver, pink and yellow for a heart, and ecru for lungs. The eggs are covered in a flexible selectively-absorbent membrane containing a proprietary combination of natural and artificial proteins and growth-factors. Consumers swallow the eggs whole, as many as three at a sitting according to preference. "It's a bit like downing a large oyster," explains Freelie. "We considered chewables, but felt that anything that violated the integrity of the eggs would not be consistent with our vision."
Resisting digestion, the eggs' absorbent membranes collect an array of samples as they pass through the digestive tract, including cells from the lining of the stomach and small intestines. Exploiting a patented hemo-osmotic process, the complex polymer membranes store imprints of key proteins, enabling the eggs to tailor subsequent organ development to the protenomic phenotype of the individual consumer.
After passing the eggs, consumers plant them in conventional potting soil. Within 7-10 days, the first sprouts appear, and, after 4-6 weeks of cultivation, the plants begin to bear large, egg-shaped fruit. Colored to coordinate with the egg from which it has sprouted, the rind of each fruit also bears tattoo-like marks shaped like the organ with which they are associated. The fruit ripens within days and can be picked once it makes a full, hollow sound when thumped.
The melons each contain a set of organs of the appropriate type: handy, portable, and ready for immediate transplantation. Stored in sawdust, or in a cool, dry place, they can keep for up to 8 weeks
"This new process has been testing very well in our focus groups," notes Freelie. "Research had shown us, time and again, that people wanted to have genetically compatible organs available for transplant, but were intimidated by the popular image of weird tanks in a sinister lab. They also didn't like the idea of giving up control over their own tissue.
"Now we're addressing those concerns. This is a very user-friendly process. It involves cute eggs, something everybody can relate to. And the laying of eggs, just like a chicken on the farm. Plus growing a beautiful plant. There's nothing more natural and human than working with the soil. We're leveraging familiar skills and ideas to drive adoption of a technology everybody wants but few are yet comfortable with. This is a sure winner, and a real triumph for our product design folks."
Market trials are scheduled to begin late next month, with world-wide product roll-out planned in time for the spring planting season.
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