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Please don’t eat the babies

Gazette staff February 1st, 2012

The upcoming session of the state Legislature will wrestle with budgets, taxes and other important-sounding stuff, but perhaps no bill has fed the imagination as that of a measure aimed at banning the use of aborted fetuses in food.

The modest proposal by state Sen. Ralph Shortey has predictably attracted national headlines from media outlets who haven’t been this eager to cover Oklahoma since voters here outlawed cockfighting. From the Washington Post to Howard Stern, folks have dusted off their “Soylent Green” references to ponder — and not without merit — just what prompted the freshman lawmaker to file Senate Bill 1418. Is something going on with the McRib we need to know about?

Shortey has said he’s somewhat bewildered by the flood of reaction.

“People are thinking that this has to do with fetuses being chopped up and put in our burritos,” the Oklahoma City Republican told The Oklahoman. “That’s not the case. It’s beyond that.”

Shortey contends the legislation was prompted by accusations that a San Diego-based business called Senomyx has used embryonic stem cells in the testing of food additives.

While Senomyx denies the accusations, Shortey’s bill might not be completely inexplicable. As Forbes’ Matthew Herper noted in a recent story, a number of food companies “are using cell lines originally derived from human fetuses in order to develop new food products.”

That’s not exactly the same thing as fetuses, of course, but Herper and others suggest the legislation is more about creeping toward a ban on stem cell research.

“I think this bill is anti-medicine, anti-biotech, and anti-business,” Herper wrote, “but I also think that Shortey has a point, and that his effort highlights a deep divide in the way people understand and feel about science.”

Until this is all sorted out, Chicken-Fried News has resolved to stay away from baby corn. Just in case.

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02.02.2012 at 08:37 Reply

People who have no understanding of science should not pretend to be knowledgable enough to pass legislation fore or against it.  

The issue of stem cells is really an amazing one.  There is too much misinformation about the this topic, and it pollutes people's ability to see the lifesaving potential.  

The Republican party must really be at odds on this topic.  I mean, here you have this thing with insane profit potential (imagine growing brand new organs), and then you have their religious base who just pictures embros on a chopping block.  The latter should really look into the truth before vilifying something they choose not to comprehend.  It could save their life one day.