China bans sale of human eggs

The health ministry had outlawed "egg donation and supply for commercial purposes," the Xinhua news agency reported.

n a circular the ministry had also restricted the use of one donor's sperm to impregnate a maximum of five women and banned the supply of sperm to unauthorized institutions, it said.

As of March 31, 64 institutions were authorized to offer fertility treatment for childless couples, while seven institutions had established sperm banks, Xinhua said.

Figures were not immediatley available but the fertility business seems to be expanding fast and sperm banks have had problems getting supplies that are good enough.

Scientific research shows that overall sperm density among Chinese males has dropped by about 40 percent over the past half century, state media said recently.

China bans sale of human eggs, tightens control over sperm banks

Ancestry in DNA

Published: April 12, 2006

Genetic tests, once obscure tools for scientists, have begun to influence everyday lives in many ways. The tests are reshaping people's sense of themselves — where they came from, why they behave as they do, what disease might be coming their way.

Given the tests' speculative nature, it seems unlikely that colleges, governments and other institutions will embrace them. But that has not stopped many test-takers from adopting new DNA-based ethnicities — and a sense of entitlement to the privileges typically reserved for them.

"This is not just somebody's desire to go find out whether their grandfather is Polish," said Troy Duster, a sociologist at New York University who has studied the social impact of the tests. "It's about access to money and power."

Driving the pursuit of genetic bounty are start-up testing companies with names like DNA Tribes and Ethnoancestry. For $99 to $250, they promise to satisfy the human hunger to learn about one's origins — and sometimes much more. On its Web site, a leader in this cottage industry, DNA Print Genomics, once urged people to use it "whether your goal is to validate your eligibility for race-based college admissions or government entitlements."

Some social critics fear that the tests could undermine programs meant to compensate those legitimately disadvantaged because of their race. Others say they highlight an underlying problem with labeling people by race in an increasingly multiracial society.

"It used to be 'someone said my grandmother was an Indian,' " says Joyce Walker, the enrollment clerk who regularly turns away DNA petitioners for the Mashantucket Pequot tribe, which operates the lucrative Foxwoods Resort Casino in Connecticut. "Now it's 'my DNA says my grandmother was an Indian.' "

Recognizing the validity of DNA ancestry tests, some Indians say, would undermine tribal sovereignty. They say membership requires meeting the criteria in a tribe's constitution, which often requires documenting blood ties to a specific tribal member. DNA tests cannot pinpoint to which tribe an individual's ancestor belonged.

But if tribes are perceived as blocking legitimate DNA applicants to limit payouts of casino money, experts say, it could damage their standing to enforce the treaties conferring the financial benefits so many covet.

Seeking Ancestry in DNA Ties Uncovered by Tests - New York Times

Comparison Chart of DNA Services


Google accused of bio-piracy

Andrew Donoghue

Search giant Google has been accused of being the "biggest threat to genetic privacy" for its alleged plan to create a searchable database of genetic information.

alleged that Google's collaboration with genomic research institute J. Craig Venter, to create a searchable online database of all the genes on the planet, is a clear example of biopiracy.

Biopiracy refers to the "monopolisation of genetic resources" according to the show's organisers. It is also defined as the unauthorised use of biological resources by organisations such as corporations, universities and governments.

According to the award's Web site, Google is guilty of biopiracy because plans for a searchable database could make it easier for private genetic information to be abused. "Google, in cooperation with Craig Venter, are developing plans to make all of our genomes Googlable to facilitate the brave new world of private genetically-tailored medicines," the site claims.

"The new 'we want to store everyone's information online' mission statement is going to get very controversial if they extend that to genomic information. If Google thinks online privacy is a big can of worms wait until they realise what they've opened up with the whole genetic privacy debate," he said.

Google accused of bio-piracy - ZDNet UK News

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