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精子银行|《经济学人》:资源能变成钱,钱亦能变成资源

2017-09-17 从余启 我与我们的世界 我与我们的世界


欢迎打开“我与我们的世界”,从此,让我们一起“纵览世界之风云变幻、洞察社会之脉搏律动、感受个体之生活命运、挖掘自然之点滴奥妙”。

我与我们的世界,既是一个“奋斗”的世界,也是一个“思考”的世界。奋而不思则罔,思而不奋则殆。这个世界,你大,它就大;你小,它就小。

欢迎通过上方公众号名称打开公众号“查看历史信息”来挖掘往期文章,因为,每期都能让你“走近”不一样的世界、带给你不一样的精彩


本期导读:精子库,即精液冷藏技术,是指采用液氮将精液贮藏于-196℃,精子能良好地贮藏很长时间,需要时可溶化供人工授精。在中国,精子库使用于以下几种情况:经医治无效的男子不育患者,对其配偶可进行志愿供精者的冷冻精液人工授精,因患病必须应用某些药物、放射或手术治疗,而产生绝育影响者,或因某种职业(如接触放射物质)而影响生育者,可预先贮藏精液备用,少精症者可以预先多次收集精液,经过浓缩,积少成多,冷藏备用。


The business of sperm banks

精子银行

Seed capital

种子资本

Modern families and differing national laws on sperm donation mean opportunities for companies.

现代性的家庭模式,以及不同国家在精子捐献方面的法律法规有很大不同,对相关公司来说,这就意味着商机。


BROWSING websites that list sperm donors is weirdly similar to online dating. “Sanford is the total package,” begins one online ad, describing his strong jawline and piercing blue eyes. With a degree in finance and a “charming demeanour”, he is more than a pretty face. You can listen to a voice recording from Sanford himself. If all that wins you over, you can have his baby without ever having to go on a date. For $635, Seattle Sperm Bank (SSB) will post you a vial of his frozen swimmers.

在网上找精子捐献者,与在网上找约会对象,同样都令人感到有点不可思议。有个网络广告这样说:“您想要的,桑福德都有”,桑福德拥有线条分明的下颚轮廓,碧蓝清澈的双眸,金融专业学位,还有“风度魅力”,内外兼修,您还能通过录制的音频听到他那极具磁性的声音。若所有这些您比较满意,那么用不着麻烦约会见面,您就能有个他的孩子,只需支付635美元,西雅图精子银行就能给您邮寄一小瓶他的冷冻精子。


The fact that the main customers for many sperm banks are now single women explains the marketing technique. “They tend to be highly educated, impatient and picky,” says Ole Schou, founder of Cryos International, the world’s largest sperm bank, based in Denmark’s second-biggest city, Aarhus. Its website is designed to resemble Match.com, a dating site, because “finding a donor should be as close to finding a natural partner as possible.”

目前,很多精子银行的主要客户大都是单身女性,基于这样的现实,自然也就能明白上述网络广告之所以那样策划的原因了。“她们大都高学历、急性子、爱挑剔”,位于丹麦第二大城市奥尔胡斯的世界最大精子银行“克瑞奥斯国际”的创始人奥勒·休乌这样说到。奥瑞克斯国际的网站设计,与婚介网站Match.com有点类似,主要是因为“要寻找的精子捐献者应该与要寻找的结婚对象越相近越好。”


Outside the Cryos office, a steady trickle of young men park their bicycles and head for the donor room, which is equipped with the usual pornographic magazines, a television and an inexplicable cactus. After they hand in their contributions, lab technicians test them and sort them by quality. The samples are labelled, frozen and stored in five large vats of liquid nitrogen at -196°C. Once orders come in they will be shipped to homes, clinics and other sperm banks in over 100 countries.

克瑞奥斯国际办公室外,年轻男性一个接着一个,停好自行车,走向捐献室。捐献室里会有常见的黄色期刊,一台电视机,还有一盆莫名其妙的仙人掌。捐献完成后,实验室技术员会进行检测,按质量进行分类。捐献的样品会贴上标签,冷冻,分五份分别存放入零下196°C的五个液氮大桶中。有订单过来时,捐献的精子就会寄到客户家里、诊所或其他精子银行,范围遍布100多个国家和地区。


Fertility is a sizeable industry; commercial sperm banks are a crucial and profitable part of it. The global sperm-bank business could be worth nearly $5bn by 2025, according to Grand View Research, a market-research firm in California. Demand has risen strongly. That is partly because people in rich countries are postponing their childbearing years; they struggle to conceive as a result. But an even greater reason is that in more places, it is both legal and increasingly acceptable for lesbian couples and single women to have children. These groups make up 60% and 90% of clients at Cryos and SSB, respectively.

生育辅助行业规模可观,商业性精子银行就是其中的一部分,作用关键且盈利很好。据位于加州的市场咨询研究公司“大观研究”预计,到2025年,全球范围内的精子银行业务规模将近50亿美元。行业需求一直在强劲增长,部分原因在于,发达国家的人们都在推迟要孩子,而结果想要怀孕却比较难。不过,更重要的一个原因在于,越来越多的国家和地区,女性同性伴侣和单身女性要孩子,逐渐变得合法,人们也越来越接受。此类群体在克瑞奥斯国际和西雅图精子银行的客户中的占比,分别高达60%和90%。


As demand rises, politicians and regulators are trying to exert more control. That has created a patchwork of rules that affect sources of both supply and demand. In some countries, such as Britain and the Netherlands, anonymous donation of sperm has been outlawed, contributing to sperm shortages; in others, such as France and Spain, donors must be anonymous. In Canada, donors cannot be paid; in most European countries they can be compensated only for expenses; in America there are no limits on remuneration.

随着需求的上升,政府和监管方正努力施加更大影响,由此所带来的系列法律法规,对供应源和需求源两个方面,都构成了影响。在诸如英国、荷兰等某些国家,匿名捐献精子是非法的,这加重了精子的短缺状况。在诸如法国、西班牙等其他国家,精子捐献者必须匿名。在加拿大,捐献者不得获得报酬,而在多数欧洲国家,捐献者可就相关开支获得一定补偿,在美国,对捐献者的报酬则没有任何限制。


As for buyers of sperm, many head for jurisdictions where waiting times and prices are lower or the level of testing or information about the donor greater, or because restrictive rules at home prevent them from receiving donor sperm altogether. In Hong Kong and Switzerland, for example, only married, heterosexual couples are eligible for treatment with donor sperm. In France lesbians and single women are excluded. This legislative hodgepodge represents opportunity for those that can export sperm. Thanks to dry ice, the internet and DHL, good-quality sperm has become highly tradable.

至于精子的买方,很多人都奔向等待时间较短、价格较低的国家或地区,或检测水平较高、捐献者信息更透明的国家或地区,抑或是因为所在国有着严格的规定限制,在国内获得不了所需要的精子。例如,在香港和瑞士,只有已婚异性夫妇才能获得精子捐献。在法国,女性同性伴侣或单身女性不得获得精子捐献。这样混杂不一的系列法律法规,对于能进行精子出口的相关方,则意味这商机。还有多亏有干冰、互联网以及国际快递,在全球范围内进行精子运输已不成问题,而且质量能得到保证。


Where did you guys gamete?

都曾在哪里结合?

The industry has not always been in the hands of businessmen. For much of the 20th century, infertile couples would see a doctor who would pull his best-looking student from the corridor and use his freshly volunteered sperm to inseminate the woman, recalls Rene Almeling at Yale University. No records were kept. The HIV epidemic of the 1980s ended such shenanigans. Freezing, quarantining and testing both sperm and donors became crucial.

之前,这个领域一直没有商业人员涉足。20世纪大部分期间,不能生育的夫妇都会求助于一生,而医生则有时会把他最好看的学生拉过来,用学生刚刚打出来的新鲜精子让女方受孕,耶鲁大学的雷妮·奥美玲这样回忆说。不过,此方面的记录,是没有的。1980年代艾滋病的蔓延,终止了这样的行为。然后,对精子和捐献者都进行检测,然后进行冷冻、保证质量,随之成为必做事项。


Worried about rising costs and legal liability, medical clinics left the business and commercial sperm banks filled the gap. The market has become highly competitive. Many customers need between six and ten vials to conceive, and with lots coming back for siblings, the business is all about the first sell. Cryos’s sales department is bigger than the science lab.

由于担心成本上升以及法律风险,医疗诊所逐渐退出该领域,商业性精子银行随之填补了这个行业空白。这个市场的竞争性相当充分。很多客户需要六到十份才能怀上,其中有很多还是回头客想要给孩子要些兄弟姐妹,因此,能抓住客户的第一笔生意就极其重要。克瑞奥斯国际的销售部门就比实验室的规模要大很多。


Sperm banks can be divided into two groups: those that regard sperm donation as a medical matter and those that do not. Firms such as Cryos are adamant that donation to a healthy woman is not a medical issue. “It takes place millions of times each day without a doctor,” argues Mr Schou. Other sperm banks emphasise clinical expertise. “We provide the highest quality donors for the safest possible babies and happiest families,” says Fredrik Andreasson, chief financial officer of Seattle Sperm Bank, which focuses not just on healthy but on “sellable” donors, such as doctors. It prides itself in accepting only 1% of donors and on testing for more genetic diseases than any other bank.

精子银行可划分为两类,一类把精子捐献作为医疗业务来做,一类不把精子捐献作为医疗业务来做。诸如克瑞奥斯国际的公司就始终认为,给健康女性提供精子捐献就不是个医疗行为。休乌介绍说,“每天会有成百上千万次,而且并没有医生的参与。”其他精子银行则强调医疗专业性。西雅图精子银行就不仅关注健康问题,也关注“达标的”捐献者以及参与其中的医生,其首席财务官弗雷迪·安德雷森表示,“我们会为客户提供最高质量的捐献者,以让客户拥有最健康的孩子,构建最幸福的家庭。”西雅图精子银行称,该公司的捐献者接受率只有1% 46 33247 46 15287 0 0 1672 0 0:00:19 0:00:09 0:00:10 3172 46 33247 46 15287 0 0 1490 0 0:00:22 0:00:10 0:00:12 3091¼Œè€Œä¸”基因性疾病的检测种类比其他任何精子银行的都要多。


Prices for sperm have roughly doubled over the past decade at several banks. London Sperm Bank now charges £950 ($1,261) per vial. At Cryos the cheapest, anonymous vials start at €40 ($48); the highest quality, with an identifiable donor, extra tests and more information, cost up to €1,600. Customers can gain “exclusive access” by buying out a donor for €12,000-30,000. American banks tend to charge extra for information. Want to see a picture or hear the donor’s voice? That will be $25.

过去的十年间,多家精子银行的精子价格几乎都翻倍增长。伦敦精子银行现在的价格是每份1261美元。克瑞奥斯国际那边,最便宜的匿名捐献者的精子每份起价48美元,最高质量且捐献者身份可确定而且要进行额外检测、需要提供更多信息的,价格可高达1600欧元。客户也可获得“独享服务”,买断某位捐献者,价格从12000至30000欧元不等。美国的精子银行大都根据客户所需要的信息进行收费,比如,想不想看看捐献者的照片或听听捐献者的声音?那么,收费25美元。


For Amy Graves and her partner Claire Harrison, from Britain, information from Cryos about donors was crucial. “As I was going to carry the baby it was important to us that there were similarities between the donor and Claire,” explains Ms Graves. They settled on a man who loved football, like Claire, and martial arts, like Amy, and who shares Claire’s favourite colour (red) and some of her facial features.

对英国的艾米与她的伴侣克莱儿来说,克瑞奥斯国际所提供的捐献者信息非常重要。艾米解释说,“我要怀孩子的话,捐献者和克莱儿比较像的话,这对我们来说很重要。”最后,她们确定了一位既像克莱儿喜欢足球,又像艾米喜欢武术的捐献者,同时,捐献者最喜欢的颜色也和克莱儿的一样,都是红色,还有,捐献者与克莱儿的脸部特征也有些相像。


The commercialisation of sperm, eggs and other human tissue makes many people uneasy. Sperm banks are elusive about profit margins, but if a donor is paid $100 per sample, often split into as many as five vials, sold for $500-1,000 each, margins ought to be healthy even after costs. Yet the non-profit market has failed many people desperate to have children. After Britain started a national sperm bank in 2014, it recruited just eight donors in two years.

精子、卵子以及其他人体组织的商业化现象,让很多人感到不安。精子银行对自己的利润水平一般都讳莫如深,不过,若一位捐献者每次捐献获得100美元,通常每次捐献的精子会分成多达五份,每份卖价500至1000美元,那么即使扣除成本后,利润也应该会相当可观。而且,非营利性市场已让很多急切想要孩子的人们伤透了心。英国2014年设立国家精子库后,两年内才接受的捐献者只有八位。


The industry has challenges. Heterosexual couples are increasingly likely to freeze their own eggs and sperm cells for later; fertility treatments with the poorest sperm are improving. Last year the first steps towards making sex cells out of body cells were detailed in Nature, a science journal. But for the foreseeable future, more sperm banks will be advertising for donors who “have what it takes” and are willing to lend a hand to modern families everywhere.

不过,该行业也面临诸多挑战。越来越多的异性夫妇选择把他们的卵子和精子进行冷冻,等晚些时候要孩子。利用质量较低的精子进行的生育辅助,也在改善进步。去年,科学期刊《自然》发表了一篇文章,就身体细胞衍生出生殖细胞这个问题进行了详细探讨。不过,在可见的将来,会有越来越多的精子银行会进行广告营销,并愿为全球范围内的现代家庭提供一臂之力。


往期精彩:


造人那点事儿|《经济学人》:造人途径有N种,该选哪一种?

国际代孕|《经济学人》:能当父母,是件好事,而非犯罪

人口问题|《经济学人》:人,一定要结婚,一定要要孩子?

中英对照|《婚姻与爱情》:钻石可以恒久远,婚姻却是难上难

旧文重发|《经济学人》:日本社会的婚姻问题,映照独身时代的来临

一直在变|《婚姻制度》:制度源于历史,终将也消于历史

新书速递|《男性之隐》:一百位男性受访者倾吐心声

独家|《CNN》:特朗普就职日收到奥巴马亲笔信全文曝光

直播世界|《新兴产业》:小小直播摄像头,窥尽人性大世界

诗图一家|《在人间》:代际更替,循环往复,永无止境


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