Monday, October 03, 2011

FDA orders Bay Area man to cease manufacture of sperm

The FDA has begun targeting men who provide free sperm donations.
It began in December 2006, when Trent Arsenault, now 36 and a bachelor outside San Francisco, began offering his sperm through, a website bedecked with shots of Arsenault as a cute toddler and hunky outdoorsman. Tall and blond, Arsenault works as an engineer at a tech company and is a former Naval Academy midshipman (he dropped out to move to Silicon Valley). His qualifications might make a sperm bank drool. But he prefers to work independently, he says, having already donated to about 50 women, mostly Bay Area lesbians. Perhaps thanks in part to his twice-daily “fertility smoothies” (a blend of blueberries, almonds, and other vitamin-rich fare), he has sired at least 10 children, he says.

His prospects came to a halt in September 2010, when FDA agents knocked on the door of his 700-square-foot bachelor pad. They interviewed him in his bedroom, and collected medical records and other material related to how he “recovers and distributes semen,” according to the FDA investigation. The tone was cordial, Arsenault recalls. He even wrote a thank-you letter to the agency, complimenting “the professional and courteous attitude” of its agents.

But the following month, there came another knock on the door, this time from local police delivering an FDA order to “cease manufacture” of sperm, the first such order leveled against an individual citizen, according to a search of government records. Per the order, the agency considers Arsenault to be essentially a one-man sperm bank, referring to him as a “firm,” and alleging that he “does not provide adequate protections against communicable diseases.” If he engages in the “recovery, processing, storage, labeling, packaging, or distribution” of sperm, he faces a $100,000 fine and a year in prison.
The FDA has made its decision; now let it enforce it.
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