Human eggs and sperm have been grown in the laboratory in research which could change the face of parenthood.
It paves the way for a cure for infertility and could help those left sterile by cancer treatment to have children who are biologically their own.
But it raises a number of moral and ethical concerns. These include the possibility of children being born through entirely artificial means, and men and women being sidelined from the process of making babies.
Opponents argue that it is wrong to meddle with the building blocks of life and warn that the advances taking place to tackle infertility risk distorting and damaging relations between family members.
The U.S. government-funded research also offers the prospect of a ‘miracle pill’ which staves off the menopause, allowing women to wait longer to have a child.
It centres on stem cells, widely seen as a repair kit for the body.
Scientists at Stanford University in California found the right cocktail of chemicals and vitamins to coax the cells into becoming eggs and sperm.
In some UFO lore, the “grey” aliens reportedly are humans in an alternate time line who relied on genetic engineering exclusively to propagate their race. This led to a breakdown in the genetic diversity and quality of their DNA to the point where they were going extinct.
The story goes that this is the reason for many alien abductions, forced human pregnancies and cattle mutilations. They are all ways the aliens are attempting to recover genetic material.
Along with losing the ability to procreate, the greys also lost any connection to emotions and morality when their DNA degraded.
Whether the stories have any basis in reality of if they’re just fiction, the stories do point out some potential drawbacks of relying on technology for even the most intimate human processes.
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