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.