September 30, 2020

The Niche

Knoepfler lab stem cell blog

Stem cell myths: from Pepsi to Obama & snowflake babies

PepsiIt wasn’t that long ago that I blogged about how some wacky folks were boycotting Pepsi because allegedly stem cells were involved in the production of Pepsi and its testing of sugars.

You’ve heard of Diet Coke? Coke Zero & Pepsi Free?

Maybe there has to be a Stem Free Pepsi?


Now the Washington Times is acting as a propagandist megaphone for religious extremists who want to ban embryonic stem cell research. They published a propaganda piece yesterday on so-called “Snowflake babies”. These babies come from cryopreserved blastocysts left over from IVF, reportedly “adopted” by parents.

The Washington Times headline reads “Obama defunds ‘snowflake babies'”.

Why do I call this a myth?

Snowflake babies and/or children do exist so they themselves are not myths. You can read about them here on Wikipedia.

The mythology part comes from the implication that if only Obama wouldn’t cut the funding for this snowflake program, there are hoards of parents waiting to try to adopt frozen clusters of cells left over from IVF. The reality is that that just isn’t the case no matter what extremist organizations such as “Nightlight Christian Adoption” might want you to believe.

The Obama administration is in fact ending support for the program in question because of a lack of interest on the part of potential adoptive parents.

How many real, live snowflake children are out there? It is unclear, but the number is unlikely to exceed 100 while the best guess is that 100s of thousands of frozen blastocysts remain from IVF.

The myth is that this adoption program can make a dent in the frozen stockpile of those lab produced blastocysts if only Obama wasn’t an obstacle in the way. It just isn’t so. Regardless of who’s president or what anybody does at the federal level, there is in reality almost zero interest from parents in ‘adopting’ frozen blastocysts.

It is also notable that an important effort of Nightlight Christian Adoption” goes beyond the snowflake fluttering and extends to their goal to end embryonic stem cell research. For example, they are longtime supporters of the federal lawsuit to stop funding of embryonic stem cell research that to this day still threatens potential life saving research and by life saving I mean of real, living breathing Americans.

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