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Assisted Reproduction

The United States Is The World’s Biggest Sperm Exporter

Now if only this renewable resource could power our cars and eliminate our budget deficit:

A new report in Time magazine reveals the U.S. is the world’s top exporter of sperm.

But why? It’s largely due to America’s reputation as the gold standard in sperm, Time magazine senior editor Jeffrey Kluger said Thursday on “CBS This Morning.”

“As with any other good product, the two keys are quality control and versatility, variety of product. We have very, very strict (Food and Drug Administration) controls on who can donate and how heavily they have to be screened. We also have a multi-ethnic population, which means we’re very appealing to the world because people can come in from Japan, from Brazil, anywhere else and find a genetically, ethnically matching baby.”

There are now nearly 700 sperm banks in the U.S., according to the Food and Drug Administration. The fertility industry in the U.S. has grown from $979 million in 1988 to a projected $4.3 billion in 2013, according to Marketdata, an industry analysis and market studies publisher.

Men are paid based on quality standards, such as their level of health, height and education. A man can make $500 per donation, and up to $60,000 annually, according to the Time magazine report.

While the Time magazine story touts America’s supremacy in the production of this renewable resource, the article also raises many serious questions about the business of sperm banks.

What if a child wants to know who their sperm donor was? Questions are raised about the rights of the children and the donor. A man, for instance, can sign a document that says a parent cannot be contacted, but that document is only enforceable between him and the sperm clinic, Kluger said.

“American courts decide all of these issues in the best interest of the child and are not interested in what a sperm clinic and a donor have to say,” Kluger said. “So if a child comes in and a judge says, ‘You should be paying patrimony to this child,’ patrimony must be paid.”

Potential sibling relationships are also a concern, particularly in cases where many children are fathered by one donor. Kluger noted a case in which a British man donated enough times that he has, what he believes, are 1,000 children in relatively close geographical close proximity. Another man featured in the Time magazine report believes he has at least 70 children and perhaps as many as 140 living in the U.S. and Canada.

“There is a risk that some of these half sibs could meet and become romantically involved,” Kluger said.

Hat tip to Professor Julie Shapiro for bringing this fascinating story to my attention.


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