New Scientist reports on a new procedure to keep track of embryos and egg cells during in vitro fertilization: microscopic bar codes .

These mouse eggs were tagged by injecting microscopic silicon bar codes into their perivitelline space, the gap between the cell membrane and an outer membrane called the zona pellucida, which binds sperm cells during fertilisation.

The bar codes, which carry unique binary identification numbers, are biologically inert: they do not affect the rate of embryo development and are shed before the embryos implant into the wall of the uterus. The technique aims to simplify individual embryo identification, streamlining in vitro fertilisation and embryo transfer procedures.

The Government of Catalonia’s Department of Health has granted permission for the technique to be developed using human eggs and embryos from fertility clinics in Spain.


Early human life is already treated as a commodity, so why not track them like one, right?

Also, one of my biggest pet peeves is the use of euphemism to tone down outrages to human dignity. A prime example is found in NS ‘s misleading headline, “Fertilised eggs get microscopic bar codes”. That’s wrong. Once the egg is fertilized it ceases to be and egg and becomes an embryo. The editors of New Scientist are smart enough to know that there is not such thing as a “fertilized egg”, so why use the term? Are they more committed to political correctness than to the use of scientifically accurate terminology?

(Via: Creative Minority Report )

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