Flap over Designer Sperm in India

Posted by Marcy Darnovsky on January 26th, 2012

Blogs in India were abuzz last week after the Times of India ran an ad – and then a news story about the ad – from a couple in Chennai who are willing to pay 20,000 Rupees (about US $388) for "IITian sperm."

An "IITian" is a student at the Indian Institutes of Technology, established by the government to train scientists and engineers. The typical payment to sperm “donors” in India, according to a 2010 article in the same newspaper, is “Rs 1,000 to Rs 2,000” per sample.

The designer-sperm ad described the ideal gamete provider as "an IIT student, healthy, no bad habits, tall and fair, if possible." (In India as in a depressingly large number of other places, “fair” fetches an extra premium.)

According to the Times of India report, many IIT students were “shocked” by the ad, describing it as “insane,” “ridiculous,” and “weird.” Another news story quoted a student who called it “absolute rubbish.” And the online magazine Drishtikone responded with an account of policies and debates about “designer babies” (including a mention of the Center for Genetics and Society). The Drishtikone article concluded:

If you can order your “Just in Time” and “Customized” baby – like some order their cars now – then do you think people will stop at anything?
This could lead to a new type of apartheid and caste system, where the rich will create a community of tall, fair, blue eyed, blonde haired, and above-normal intelligent “special class.” Those without money will be a large outcaste society of the exact opposite.

Previously on Biopolitical Times:

Posted in Assisted Reproduction, Marcy Darnovsky's Blog Posts, Other Countries, Reproductive Justice, Health & Rights


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