Accelerated Growth

During and after the world wars, hormones and fertilizers were being developed to increase reproduction of resources and accelerate growth in the natural world. Diethylstilbestrol (DES), a synthetic form of the hormone estrogen important to reproduction especially in women was discovered in 1938. Just a few years later doctors began prescribing it to pregnant women as a dietary supplement that could prevent pregnancy-related complications including miscarriage and premature labor. In 1947, Harvard University physician and biochemist George Smith and endocrinologist Olive Smith published studies linking the use of DES in high doses to miscarriage prevention. Their studies were used by drug company representatives to convince doctors to prescribe DES to pregnant women (DES Action USA).

In the agricultural world, DES was used as a growth hormone to improve the ratio of feed to desired weight in livestock. Three decades on, however, empirical studies linked the hormone directly to increased breast cancer among the over 4.8 million women prescribed DES, cervical and vaginal cancer in their daughters, and congenital disabilities and deformation in their children generally. Its use in intensive livestock farming gradually led to the contamination of land, water, plants, and consequently also other living species (Paola Ebron and Anna Tsing).

In 1971, the FDA issued a Drug Bulletin to physicians, stating that DES is contra-indicated for use in pregnant women. The FDA did not ban DES, but only urged doctors to stop prescribing it for their pregnant patients (DES Action USA).

PROJECTS

Bodies of steroids
Diagram, 2019

graphic9-rev

Bodies of steroids
Inflatable. FAST, 2019