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Scientists Attach Bar Codes To Embryos 69

Zothecula writes "Fans of the film Blade Runner may remember a scene in which the maker of an artificial snake is identified by a microscopic serial number on one of its scales. Well, in a rare case of present-day technology actually surpassing that predicted in a movie, we've now gone one better — bar codes on embryos. Scientists from Spain's Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (UAB), along with colleagues from the Spanish National Research Council, have successfully developed an identification system in which mouse embryos and oocytes (egg cells) are physically tagged with microscopic silicon bar code labels. They expect to try it out on human embryos and oocytes soon."
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Scientists Attach Bar Codes To Embryos

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  • by Dexter Herbivore ( 1322345 ) on Thursday November 25, 2010 @04:14AM (#34340662) Journal
    I put on my tinfoil hat and proclaim that the insane conspiracy fantasies of right wing fundamentalist nutters are coming true? On second thoughts, I may need to be dosed up with a little more religion.... or LSD.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by TheHonch ( 1390893 )
      No, this is where you say "I, for one, welcome our bar-coded overlords"
      • I for one will resist this commercialization, I do not want to walk into the super market and buy me a handful of bar-coded embryos.
        • I agree wholeheartedly. It's so much better if you put in the effort and make them yourself. A bit like pies, really.

      • Re: (Score:1, Redundant)

        by Legion303 ( 97901 )

        Or "In Soviet Russia, code bars YOU!"

    • Re:Is this where... (Score:5, Informative)

      by interkin3tic ( 1469267 ) on Thursday November 25, 2010 @04:34AM (#34340760)

      A tinfoil hat won't save you from the embryo bar code! The fact that you're not an embryo and have no zona pellucida will. Read the very short article: these are tagged onto the outside of the embryo. The embryo hatches out of it prior to attaching to the uterine wall, the tag is lost at that point. This is not like imprinting organisms from conception to adulthood, despite the tone of the summary.

      • by gringer ( 252588 )

        This is not like imprinting organisms from conception to adulthood, despite the tone of the summary.

        No, for that you need to shoot the embryos with tiny gold pellets loaded with a very specific DNA sequence — 40-50 bp should do it. That's a much more advanced technology that we should have in about, er, -10 years [].

        • That won't imprint it for life either. You can get DNA into the embryo, no problem, but without convincing the cell it's something the cell needs to replicate, that DNA won't get copied with the cell's normal DNA and will be dilluted out in a few divisions.

          Getting DNA inserted into the genome is possible in mice and numerous other organisms, though I don't think anyone has done it in humans. Getting it inserted into the genome in -every- cell of a human body would be much more difficult. Getting it to re

      • Given that organisms already have DNA by which they can be identified and without which they are going to find essentially all critical life functions to be very difficult indeed, the idea of using some fancy, novel, and removable tag would be pretty ridiculous.

        It's an interesting bit of research, and will probably save the highly specialized "people trying to grow a bunch of early-stage embryos without getting them mixed up, for assorted research purposes" a considerable amount of time and trouble; but
    • by ZDRuX ( 1010435 ) on Thursday November 25, 2010 @04:35AM (#34340762)
      How about you provide examples of where discoveries such as this have NOT been used to document and catalog people?

      Is it really THAT FAR FETCHED to see hospitals and organizations advertising this in the future as a way to combat terrorism, or a way to prevent your child from being kidnapped, or to find your lost pets, or to ensure your baby isn't misplaced after birth, or a million other reasons I can think of?

      How about a perfect way to take DNA from crime-scenes and having a few high-profile cases solved thanks to this DNA barcode, which then opens up excuses for everyone to be barcoded at birth, is it REALLY that hard to see this?

      If I told you 50 years ago that you wouldn't be able to take a bottle of water on an airplane with you, you'd call be a conspiracy theorist, if I told you 50 years ago that protests would be shut down using sound cannons, if I told you 50 years ago that police will take blood samples from you at random spot checks, you'd call me a conspiracy theorist.. and yet - today this all seems pretty normal to you.

      Do you not see the irony in this? Not even one little bit?
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        DNA Barcode... Is DNA not unique to individuals? Why not just take a sample of everyone's DNA at birth instead of barcoding it or are there too many people claiming in court "It wasn't me. It was my evil twin" and getting away with it
        • Future-proofing against clones.

          • Hokey genetics and ancient barcodes are no match for a good Pfläger-Katsumata series-D blaster at your side.
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Verunks ( 1000826 )

          DNA Barcode... Is DNA not unique to individuals? Why not just take a sample of everyone's DNA at birth instead of barcoding it or are there too many people claiming in court "It wasn't me. It was my evil twin" and getting away with it

          not really, for example twins have the same DNA

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by Jeff DeMaagd ( 2015 )

            not really, for example twins have the same DNA

            Don't even identical twins both have single bit errors that the other doesn't?

      • Do you not see the irony in this? Not even one little bit?

        I don't see an irony in what you described, no. An example of irony would be the conspiracy theorist's wife being an employee of a company behind some of this creeping fascism, or one of the people behind this kind of thing being a victim of its misuse.

      • Re: (Score:1, Offtopic)

        by Kilrah_il ( 1692978 )

        You mean you need to implement a barcode at the embryo stage in order to have a unique identifier to each member of society? Aren't fingerprints, ear lobes, facial features and even the DNA itself unique enough?
        I won't go into the whole tin foil hat argument, but in order for your predictions to succeed, you don't need this new high tech.

        BTW, how many predictions from 50 years ago did not pan out? Oh, and while on the subject: Did anyone give out a prediction about the scenarios you pointed out 50 years ago

        • by Aryden ( 1872756 )
          no. DNA has a percentage of accuracy, so you could in theory convict someone based on DNA evidence due to their dna being too similar to the actual criminal's. This methodology would remove that and make it exact.

          Fingerprints, facial features, earlobes etc can all be altered. Just look at most of your actors and actresses, or just watch an episode of any of the "real housewives of "
        • Slashdot is so damned funny. The guy you responded to was 'insightful' while discussing the topic at hand. Your response discussing the same topic was 'offtopic'.

          I really want an "Agree/Disagree" button next to the moderation field with some filtering goodies that allow me to +/- based upon my assessments. As it stands, I view +6 Troll/Flamebait/Offtopic, -3 Insightful, and +2 Informative, but that means I sometimes miss out on the 1 or 2 comments per day that truly were insightful, will still getting to le

      • That is why I never laugh at the conspiracy theorists that 'smart' people tend to mock as insane. There are an awful lot of things that they talked about decades ago that had them labeled nutters and that we accept as a normal part of life
    • I first read about this on '' it reminded me of 1950's sci-fi or old B Movies Like the tinfoil hat comment Ha!!!
    • Funny in a sad way. I just finished a term project on the subject of RFID and smart card technology uses in th control over people. It is quite sad that this the direction the world governments are heading in. A world uprising is needed to stop such a thing, it is apparent that politics won't stop it and man's desire to be God. Religiosity is not intended.
  • Not that I believe in that kind of hokum, but could we please not do science that encourages people like Jack van Impe and his hot, hot wife Rexella? They believe that everyone will be tagged with a scannable code. That it will be the currency just before and during the beginning of the end times. They think that only those who resist it will be saved from God's judgment.

    Everytime you put a barcode on a living thing, you stir up that pot of crazy.

    This Thanksgiving, let's take a moment to think about all the

    • by interkin3tic ( 1469267 ) on Thursday November 25, 2010 @04:43AM (#34340808)

      Everytime you put a barcode on a living thing, you stir up that pot of crazy.

      The summary really should have pointed out that THE TAGS DON'T STAY ON. Hopefully we can nip this in the bud.

      And try not to forget that just because science is great, it doesn't mean that the Christian retards have any less power.

      What power in this context? The power to foam at the mouth about this fairly boring bit of research from Spain? The ability to pass laws stipulating that human embryos should not be marked with barcodes?

      Don't get me wrong, any power is more power than those nuts -should- have, and this could get them new recruits which would also be bad, but this is not a serious issue otherwise.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        The summary really should have pointed out that THE TAGS DON'T STAY ON. Hopefully we can nip this in the bud.

        That's not how the psychology of confirmation bias works. Anyone looking for confirmation of their beliefs about a barcode apocalypse will simply ignore that part of the story. I'm sure these Van Impe characters would quite happily spread the story that embryos are being barcoded to their flock, selectively quote mining the relevant news stories.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

        Yes, the tags are only there to help identify the egg so that mix-ups don't happen when fertilising them. There was a case a few years ago in the UK where two couple's eggs got mixed up resulting in each mother having the child of the other's partner.

        I don't know if sperm can be tagged in the same way but at least this would reduce the chances of a mistake by 50%.

    • by AmberBlackCat ( 829689 ) on Thursday November 25, 2010 @05:30AM (#34341058)
      Once again, it's worth noting that no Christians are attacking atheists here. There's just you attacking them.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by deetoy ( 1576145 )
        The odd thing I see with the arguements above is the failure to realize some caution in the application of science is a good thing.

        If the 'religious nuts' provide some caution to the scientific community and encourage the public to debate how science is implemented then that has a net positive result. Worth noting here that not all things claiming to be in the religious name actually are.

        'declared biologically innocuous in an earlier study', yeah, we were told Thalidomide was a great drug .....

        It i
  • I call dibs on 666.666-666-666 for my baby!
    • Re:Dibs! (Score:4, Funny)

      by PolygamousRanchKid ( 1290638 ) on Thursday November 25, 2010 @05:04AM (#34340932)

      Someone I knew during my university days in scenic New Jersey painted "666" on his forehead, and walked into the local 24-hour Wawa market (it's like a Kwik-E-Mart) at the middle of the night. Some Schlaumeyer grabbed two loaves of French bread (baguettes), and put them in a cross shape. Then he yelled, "Back! Back!"

      At least one person in the store got the joke.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Vernes ( 720223 )
      Is the barcode alphanumeric? In that case I claim: "Robert`); DROP TABLE Students;--"
  • Not that new (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 25, 2010 @04:44AM (#34340814)

    Salmon otoliths were barcoded in the early 80's (I think) to distinguish between different hatcheries. Coding was achieved by varying the water temperature during development, thus affecting the rate of growth, and hence colour of the bone in bands. The code stayed with the fish for life.

  • I just know it.
  • Sweet! (Score:3, Funny)

    by commodoresloat ( 172735 ) on Thursday November 25, 2010 @05:03AM (#34340930)

    Finally, a use for my :cue:cat!!!!

    • by tqft ( 619476 )

      I use my cuecat regularly - scanning barcoded isbns into alexandria so it can go away and look up all the details for me

    • by antdude ( 79039 )

      Dang it and I just tossed mine out (from Wired Magazine) a couple years ago. :(

  • by michelcolman ( 1208008 ) on Thursday November 25, 2010 @05:29AM (#34341048)
    Just take the baby off the shelf, scan the bar code, enter your credit card, and all the paperwork takes care of itself!
    • by azalin ( 67640 )

      The Simpsons already did that.

      • Of course, they've always been way ahead of their time :-)
      • Thats just part of Ruppert Murdoch's scheme to push this stuff on an unsuspecting public who buys into this as "normal". His idea is to have everyone tagged so that whenever they walk within 20 ft of a TV, they will be immediately be exposed to Fox News. How else could you explain his massive investment portfolio into bar coding and radio tag technology?

  • Caught it on BBC's iPlayer (UK-only suckers) a couple of weeks ago, still amazing after all these years... []
  • I don't know if that's the right term, but surely a dna "hashtag" is a more effective than sticking a silicon label on to the embryo sack? Or can't one get DNA sequences (unique?) from an embryo?

  • Actually, a non-negligible amount of babies get mistakenly switched around in hospitals. This is the reason why many hospitals nowadays (at least in Poland) give newborns bracelets with the name of their parent -- but there are claims that they still manage to get it wrong quite often.

    Less seriously: I was born a stupid, ugly but work-loving baby, yet an evil midwife switched me in the crib.

  • This is all a conspiracy - first step towards an Embryo supermarket.

    "*Beep* That'll be 9.95 sir, cash or credit?"
  • "Max is a genetically engineered human, created by Manticore .. All the kids in Manticore had a number inserted into there genetic patterns that shows up as a barcode on the back of the neck" link []
  • ... surely even better would be to insert the barcode as a section of DNA directly into the genome?

    Perhaps we're not far from that either.

  • Do any of the tags contain the string 'whatcouldpossiblygowrong' on them?

  • They expect to try it out on human embryos and oocytes soon

    Would you kindly go fuck yourselves?

  • Why not create embryos without any junk DNA and add special DNA in them so that unremovable barcodes appear on their necks?

Someday your prints will come. -- Kodak