The dystopian future graphically brought to life in the series shows a world where fertility rates have dropped dramatically and newborn babies are all but extinct. Women who are still able to fall pregnant are prized, enslaved possessions of powerful but infertile couples, forced to bear children and stripped of their identities, rights and freedoms. It's a future that has seemed altogether too far-fetched and scarily imaginable since Margaret Atwood's novel of the same name was published in 1985 - particularly now, as the fictional world's has drawn parallels to America's new government.
In the novel and series, the infertility is linked to pollution and chemicals in produce; the real-life drop in swimmers has been blamed on everything from smoking and obesity to exposure of pregnant women to common chemicals known as endocrine disruptors (another reason to go BPA free). “The results are quite shocking,” said Hagai Levine, an epidemiologist and lead author of the study from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. The study drew on 185 studies conducted between 1973 and 2011, involving almost 43,000 men from around the world. Non-western men didn't appear to have the same problem, but researchers were quick to point out that far fewer studies had been conducted on those populations.
Meanwhile, it's been found that everyday types of pollution are already making it harder for women to fall pregnant. The Atlantic reports that a study last year by Boston University School of Medicine, found that women who live within 160 metres of a major road are 11 percent more likely to have problems conceiving than those who live further away. Endocrine disruptors - found in everything from plastic to hand sanitiser - have been controversially linked to infertility.
Blessed be the fruit, indeed.