Journal Article

Uncertain commodities: egg banking and value in Ukraine

Published 6 September 2023 / By Polina Vlasenko

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The development of vitrification techniques has increased the use of donor ova by allowing for their cryopreservation, storage, and international transportation. However, the implications of egg banking for the valuation of eggs remain little studied. Building on ethnographic fieldwork in a Ukrainian egg bank, in this article, I examine different mechanisms and calculations that allow the bank to transform vitrified ova—products with volatile outcomes—into valuable but uncertain commodities. This article reveals how the bank staff can never completely secure their profits because of the variability of the egg quality assessment and the unpredictability of their expenses. I demonstrate how the dilemmas that arise when the egg banking industry tries to turn oocytes into commodities trigger certain efforts to develop quality control in vitrification techniques and donor selection, as well as classification and accounting schemes related to oocyte quality


Vlasenko, P. (2023) Uncertain commodities: egg banking and value in Ukraine, BioSocieties, Palgrave Macmillan