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Is it ok to barcode human embryos?

by Vee (follow)
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Ethics (86)      Medical (49)      Science (20)     


Barcode
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As a result of their study, ‘Barcode tagging of human oocytes and embryos to prevent mix-ups in assisted reproduction technologies’, S. Novo, et al. conclude that it "is simple, safe and highly efficient” (2013).

Although some may regard this as a ‘scientific innovation’, it certainly raises ethical questions.

Do you think it is ok to barcode human embryos and oocytes?


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Bar codes, essentially are microscopic tattoos. The labels are injected into a space between the cell wall and a membrane that surrounds an egg.
During normal reproduction, a fertilised embryo will shed
this outer layer along with the bar codes.

At first it sounds really like a nasty idea.

But when you think about the mix up's that have happened, and they have....you then see the devastating effects, when the parents get a white child and they are black.

I am only now talking about human error.Not a genetic throwback, which are amazing and do happen.

This is about human error, and giving the wrong embryo to the wrong parent.
The bar code will long 'be gone', before the baby is born.

On reading the effects of what happens to the parent,with the wrong child!
is nothing short of traumatic.

Bar code for a short time, that will be totally gone when the child is born,and gone by nature.
Or.
The chance .....of getting someone else's child,which has had people fighting, for rights to be in that child's life.Once a mistake is made, all 'parties' must be told.
Your now talking about legal problems, extra parent's, for the rest of the child's life!
I can't believe that I'm saying this....but looking at all the issues, I would have to choose....... bar code.
The thought of me having to deal with all that mess, if I got the wrong baby egg, would not be a good outcome for the child, me and my family.Not to mention....the other poor parents!!
It would be quite cruel....so yes, I would have to take the bar code, if it was
implemented.

I see what you're saying, but why can't they just barcode the test tube?
Apparently, even then there is room for human error, Bryony. But seeing as they are dealing with people's lives, you'd think they would take extra special care. I really do not like the idea of barcoding a human life. jonaj, I can appreciate your viewpoint, but to think that these people were first known as only numbers, can't be right. It's dehumanising and degrading.
by Vee
I'm with you on this one Jonaj if that's the way it works. The barcode is gone by the time they're born. Being known as a number as an embryo doesn't seem a big deal to me. I wouldn't name an embryo anyway. Actually I wouldn't name an unborn child of any gestation, but that's just me.
Great answer, jonaj.Thanks for the info.
by Rice
your welcome :)
by jonaj
I find situation when the embryos are mixed up a lot more annoying than the bar code. So, yes, they should do it as long as it helps avoiding human error and does not have any health consequences on the kid.
Where does this study come from? How would it be practical to barcode human embryos? They don't mean embryos still in the womb, do they? I suppose not, or there would be no need to "prevent mixups". So are they just talking labelling a test tube or what? Sorry, I am asking more questions than you did.
Hi Jennifer, here is a link to the abstract for the study. The barcodes are placed on embryos consequent of IVF and the like so there are 'no mixups'. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24227078
by Vee
Not labelling a test tube, that is what has been done previously. They have no managed to barcode the actual embryos themselves.
by Vee
While I see the benefit of not getting embryos mixed up, I would hate to be that child who grows up with a tag so that they can be identified or traced. I think it has potential, but those issues would have to be sorted out before it was used.
Hi Bryony, as far as I am aware, the barcode does not remain with the child. In fact, the barcode does not go further than before the embryo's implantation into the uterus.
by Vee
Hi Bryony, as far as I am aware, the barcode does not remain with the child. In fact, the barcode does not go further than before the embryo's implantation into the uterus.
by Vee
In that case, I don't personally have a problem with it.
I can't see how hard it could be to simply barcode the test tube that the embryos and oocytes are in instead of the items themselves. Surely if they were correctly labelled and handled, then mix-ups shouldn't occur.
You would think so Sarah, but apparently this is not always the case. I don't mean to sound melodramatic, but all this does make me think of POWs being branded with numbers. I think it's dehumanising.
by Vee
Is this a serious question? Of course it is not 'okay' to barcode humans.
Not humans, but embryos before they are implanted. They have developed this technology to prevent mix-ups that may occur during assisted reproductive processes.
by Vee
Not humans, but embryos before they are implanted. They have developed this technology to prevent mix-ups that may occur during assisted reproductive processes.
by Vee
Depends on the reason for it and the subsequent usage of it.
by kimp
I don't think it's a bad idea as long as there are no effects on the child in later years, or when he/she is born.
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