Lawmaker authors bill outlawing human fetuses in food

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OKLAHOMA CITY — An Oklahoma lawmaker’s bizarre proposal at the State Capitol is asking for a ban on fetuses being used for food testing. Senator Ralph Shortey (R – Dist. 44) has introduced House Bill 1418, which “prohibits the manufacture or sale of food or products which use aborted human fetuses.”

He wants to make it illegal to manufacture or knowingly sell food or other products that contain embryonic stem cells.

Shortey points to pro-life groups boycotting PepsiCo for contracting with a company that allegedly uses aborted fetal cells to produce artificial flavors.

“I don’t think that any company is chopping up fetuses and putting them in the food for ingredients,” he says. “But it is clear there is the research potential that the techniques and procedures are in place.”

Shortey says his own research unveiled a real concern that embryonic stem cells were being used to test artificial flavoring in food.

“It’s kind of like back in the 60s and 70s and even earlier when there were companies that were using extreme animal testing and everybody didn’t believe it,” he says. “’No, they’re not doing that kind of stuff,’ and then you saw the videos. You saw the pictures.”

Ryan Kiesel, the Executive Director of ACLU of Oklahoma, says, “To the extent that it’s a solution in search of a problem, it is a waste of time.”

Kiesel has concerns that the bill is really just the first step toward criminalizing embryonic stem cell research, which he says is making strides in finding cures for spinal cord injuries, Alzheimer’sand diabetes.

Kiesel says doing that will hurt the recruitment of top physicians to the state.

“And while they may not be using embryonic stem cell research at this point, if we cut off that option by criminalizing it, I think that makes us less attractive to bring those folks to our state,” he said.

“This bill is not a backdoor attempt to that,” Shortey says. “In fact, I even offered to one of my friends that approached me about it. I said, ‘Hey, if you feel that uneasy about it, I’ll author a bill that says no embryonic stem cell research.'”

An effort to outlaw embryonic stem cell research failed last year in the legislature.

But Senator Shortey says he’d vote for it if someone else authored that bill.

Kiesel hopes legislators don’t spend one minute on this bill.

The FDA says they are “not aware of any problems related to this issue.”