The Law of Self-Eating — Milk, Placenta, and Feces Consumption

Law, Technology and Humas, Vol. 3(1), 2021, pp. 109-122

14 Pages Posted: 3 Aug 2020 Last revised: 4 May 2021

See all articles by Mathilde Cohen

Mathilde Cohen

University of Connecticut - School of Law

Date Written: August 7, 2018


Humans have consumed nearly every human body part. Today, the consumption of milk, placenta, and feces, in particular, is on the rise. Milk, placenta, and feces circulate directly among people given that no medical expertise is required to consume them in unprocessed form, but they are also distributed by institutionalized medical entities (e.g., biobanks, hospitals, pharmaceutical, biotechnology, or cosmetic companies). They are considered simultaneously valuable (as they are typically donated gratuitously and primarily used for nutritional, health, and research purposes) and dangerous (as they can transmit viruses, bacteria, parasites, and pollutants). This article has two main goals. First, in examining the social meanings of milk, placenta, and feces consumption, it considers whether and how the circulation of these bio-commodities shapes the limits of human bodies and communities. Second, it asks whether there is something different or specific about the way in which self-consumption (i.e., the consumption of human body materials by humans) is regulated compared to that of foods, drugs, and supplements derived from animal bodies, plants, or other non-human sources.

Keywords: Food and drug law, cannibalism, bio-commodity, health law, bio-medical law, breast milk, human milk, placenta, Fecal microbiota transplantation, self-eating, self-consumption, sharing economy, racial inequality, feminist theory, law of the body, colonialism, reproductive justice

JEL Classification: K00, K14, K34, K42, D51, D63, F54, I1, I18, J16, K11, K32, L65

Suggested Citation

Cohen, Mathilde, The Law of Self-Eating — Milk, Placenta, and Feces Consumption (August 7, 2018). Law, Technology and Humas, Vol. 3(1), 2021, pp. 109-122, Available at SSRN:

Mathilde Cohen (Contact Author)

University of Connecticut - School of Law ( email )

65 Elizabeth Street
Hartford, CT 06105
United States

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