For sale: beautiful, healthy, intelligent eggs

Elton Wong

“Welcome to — the only Web site that provides you with the unique opportunity to bid on eggs from beautiful, healthy and intelligent women. Coming soon: A sperm auction for beautiful, healthy and intelligent men.”

This odd bit of text comes from an actual Web site that started last week, at

The site was created by a fashion photographer named Ron Harris, who created the site to fulfill his own theories of “beauty and biology.”

The site is an auction block on which couples can buy the eggs of models for their own reproductive needs.

In an editorial on his Web page, Harris claims that his project “is Darwin’s ‘natural selection’ at its very best. The highest bidder gets youth, beauty and social skills.

“‘Natural selection’ is choosing genes that are healthy and beautiful. This ‘Celebrity Culture’ that we have created does better economically than any other civilization in our history. We are turned on by beauty. Why?”

Now, any biology student is going to get a little testy when some crackpot Playboy photographer starts making up pseudo-intellectual crap and selling it under the name of science.

A freshman in Biology 201 can tell you that evolution and natural selection are simply descriptive theories that are useful explanations of natural processes.

Neither of these theories has anything to tell us about how we should act or reproduce. Very little good has come from this misconception.

It is understandable then that reproduction experts and ethicists are outraged at the site; some of them have accused Harris of promoting eugenics, the selective breeding of humans in order to “improve” the gene pool.

This criticism — and eugenics itself —is loaded with connotations of racism and Nazism.

Harris, though, makes no effort to protect himself from this criticism.

“It is human nature to strive to improve everything. From fruits and vegetables, to animals, to medicine and even to human genes, we modify everything to produce the best we can. And of course we all want the best for ourselves and our children.”

I imagine that most people would have a problem equating “improvement” with “buying the eggs of models you’ve never met and making your babies with them.”

At the same time, I’m willing to bet that Harris is going to make a lot of money. The science of genetics is not yet advanced enough to let people design their children gene by gene.

It seems obvious that the next best thing would be to pick out the reproductive partner who has the traits you want your offspring to have.

After all, people have been doing that for thousands of years. is really nothing new.

Many current fertilization clinics already let clients select their eggs on the basis of race, height, weight, hair color and many other characteristics.

Egg donors are almost always sellers, paid from $3,000 to $5,000 for their ova. Last winter, an anonymous couple put an add in several college newspapers offering up to $50,000 for the eggs of a young woman with certain characteristics.

Buying eggs from models may be shallow and antithetical to human dignity, but it is no more shallow or undignified than many other aspects of our popular culture.

When Cosmopolitan magazine can run an article warning of the dangers of anorexia in an issue filled with models who haven’t eaten a square meal since the fall of the Soviet Union, how can we pick on Harris for providing a service that many people will want?

Psychologists have demonstrated again and again the value people place on looks.

You need only turn on the TV or open any popular publication to see that this is so.

We have multi-billion-dollar cosmetic, fashion, diet and plastic surgery industries. Harris’ project is part of a bigger picture.

There’s no reason to restrict or condemn this man because he’s not doing anything worse than any of these commercial entities. Long live the free market; long live the culture industry.

Plus, I think it’d be funny to see the first parents who buy an egg off the Web site end up with a chain-smoking prima donna who has a voracious appetite for heroin.

They’d deserve it for buying eggs from someone they don’t know.

Elton Wong is a junior in biology from Ames.