The threatened trade in human ova

Nature Reviews Genetics 5 (3):157 (2004)
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It is well known that there is a shortage of human ova for in vitro fertilization (IVF) purposes, but little attention has been paid to the way in which the demand for ova in stem-cell technologies is likely to exacerbate that shortfall and create a trade in human eggs. Because the 'Dolly' technology relies on enucleated ova in large quantities, allowing for considerable wastage, there is a serious threat that commercial and research demands for human eggs will grow exponentially from the combination of these two pressures. In the absence of legal regulation in the United Kingdom, and in the context of a globalized trade in human organs, we face a 'Wild West' situation in genetic and biotechnological research that involves human ova.

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Donna Dickenson
Birkbeck, University of London


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