The price of a human egg depends on the characteristics of the donor. In America, eggs harvested from white college students at Ivy League institutions can sell for as much as $100,000. But there's a cheaper way to get them. Selling human eggs is illegal in much of Europe, however Cyprus and Spain have loopholes in their fertility industries markets that encourage desperate and poor women to sell their eggs for as little as $1400. The donors are mostly refugees from the tattered economies of Eastern Europe who jump at the chance to earn a couple hundred dollars for undergoing potentially dangerous egg harvesting procedures.

Cyprus is now one of the top destinations worldwide for fertility tourism, performing thousands of egg harvestings each year. Yet activists claim that the profit motive is driving some doctors to increase egg production by putting donors through more dangerous harvesting procedures. In Spain, illegal immigrants fill the lobbies of world class fertility centers while at the same time providing a safe haven for women to seek out fertility treatments that are illegal in their home countries.

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Scott Carney combines anthropology with long-form investigative journalism. He is a contributing editor for WIRED magazine and his work also appears in Mother Jones, NPR, Fast Company...