A new Oklahoma bill would ban "the sale or manufacture of food or products which contain aborted human fetuses." Seriously.
Oklahomans can thank state senator Ralph Shortey for introducing this vital bill. Shortey has also introduced some other unconventional bills, like expanding asset forfeiture against undocumented immigrants, attacking birthright citizenship, and even pandering to birthers. The entire bill (SB 1418) is posted below:
An Act relating to food; prohibiting the manufacture or sale of food or products which use aborted human fetuses; providing for codification; and providing an effective date.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF OKLAHOMA:
SECTION 1. NEW LAW A new section of law to be codified in the Oklahoma Statutes as Section 1-1150 of Title 63, unless there is created a duplication in numbering, reads as follows:
No person or entity shall manufacture or knowingly sell food or any other product intended for human consumption which contains aborted human fetuses in the ingredients or which used aborted human fetuses in the research or development of any of the ingredients.
SECTION 2. This act shall become effective November 1, 2012.
Obvious jokes aside, this bill is essentially a backdoor ban on embryonic stem cell research. The phrase "any other product intended for human consumption" is decidedly vague. After all people "consume" medicines, vaccines, and other therapies, so those treatments developed from embryonic stem cells could also be banned. This would stymie scientific research for embyronic stem cells, which have significant potential, like literally helping the blind see.
Indeed, while Shortey admits he hasn't heard of any companies using fetuses in their products, he believes the media isn't focusing on the stem cell ban:
People are thinking that this has to do with fetuses being chopped up and put in our burritos…That's not the case. It's beyond that.
There are companies that are using embryonic stem cells to research and basically cause a chemical reaction to determine whether or not something tastes good or not.
The bill's inspiration came after Shortey read an email from the pro-life Children of God for Life, which claimed that PepsiCo was using embryonic stem cells to test its products. More specifically, HEK 293, a stem cell commonly used in research. Apparently, PepsiCo was partnering with Senomyx, a biotech firm, to test taste receptors. The Miami New Times has more on this R&D:
The company is using isolated human taste receptors in the form of proteins to identify flavors and enhance them.
Gwen Rosenberg, vice president of investor relations and corporate communications for Senomyx, described the process as "basically a robotic tasting system." She depicted rows of little plastic square dishes with hundreds of tiny indentations in each dish. A protein is placed in each indentation, then a flavor. If the protein reacts to the flavor, the results are charted. If the new flavor (of which the company has more than 800,000) is successful with the protein test, the company then conducts taste tests with (live) adult humans.
In some respects, this bill is similar to Oklahoma's ban on Sharia law (which was just overturned). Both prohibit something many Americans are against (eating babies, Sharia law), while cloaking a more unpopular provision. While the ban on Sharia went viral, there was little mention of how that constitutional amendment would have also outlawed considering international law when deciding court cases:
The courts shall not look to other legal precepts of other nations and cultures. Specifically, the courts shall not consider international law or Sharia law.