The Law and Science of Technologies of Human Milk

In the third seminar of our QUT Global Law, Science and Technology Seminar Series, Professor Mathilde Cohen provided insight into the argument that human milk itself has become a “technology.”

Abstract: Legal scholar Kara Swanson has argued that with the emergence of human milk banking in the 1910s, human milk itself became a “technology.”Mathilde Cohen’s presentation will develop this insight based on two case studies. The first is the Marmande milk bank in France, which is the only organisation that has continuously lyophilised human milk since the 1950s. The second is the emergence of “lab-grown” human milk, that is, the attempt at producing human milk components in the lab using in vitro cell culture technology in Israel, Singapore, and the United States.In both cases Mathilde will ask whether the science and regulation underlying these advances benefit families and their children (and benefit them equally) or whether they reinforce existing first food and reproductive inequities.


Guest presenter

Mathilde CohenMathilde Cohen is the George Williamson Crawford Professor of Law at the University of Connecticut. She works in the fields of constitutional law, health law, comparative law, and food law. Her research centres on foundational questions related to bodies, nourishment, animals, and reproduction in domains where regulation has not yet crystallised into a stable regulatory regime and the normative questions are contested. She has analysed the regulation of bodily substances such as milk and placenta as raising key issues of social justice.

About the series

The QUT Global Law, Science and Technology Seminar Series aims to bring together national and international speakers who will explore the personal, societal and governance dimensions of solving real world problems which are influenced by, and through the interactions of science, technology and the law.

The series will host speakers who think about ‘technology’ and ‘science’ as broadly construed to refer to methods of framing or interacting with the world, and that enable the critical and imaginative questioning of the technical, science, environmental and health dimensions of law and life.

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