The biopolitics of frozen embryos

Manuela Monti, Carlo A. Redi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The unresolved debate about frozen embryos has left open the discussion on "what to do with them". There are only three ways to deal with frozen embryos: 1) to leave them frozen indefinitely; 2) to defrost and discard them and 3) to use them for research. In this paper, we suggest that the application of current scientific knowledge, instead of inappropriately referring to ethical principles or to the concept of person, could help with the decision about what to do with hundreds of thousands of frozen embryos, thus bringing the sensitive debate on bioethical issues to shared practical solutions. We face a new individual only when a new functional copy of his genome is formed. In both natural and artificial animal and plant reproduction, this principle applies. This status occurs in humans at the 4-8 cell stage. Acknowledgement of this factual datum would allow advocates of all religious and ideological beliefs to defend their principles and to realign their positions to a setting within the boundaries of current scientific knowledge.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)243-247
Number of pages5
JournalInternational Journal of Developmental Biology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2011


  • Biopolitics
  • Frozen embryo
  • Functional genome
  • Human being
  • Scientific citizenship
  • Stem cell

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental Biology
  • Embryology


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