An Oklahoma state senator has proposed a bill that would ban the use of human foetuses in food, reported the Associated Press on Wednesday, claiming that his own online research had led him to believe that such a ban was necessary.
On Tuesday, Republican State Senator Ralph Shortey introduced Senate Bill 1418 to the Oklahoma State Legislature, calling for the prohibition of "the sale or manufacture of food or products which contain aborted human foetuses.”
According to Shortey, in an interview with KRMG Radio, “there is a potential that there are companies that are using aborted human babies in their research and development of basically enhancing flavour for artificial flavours;” and as such, the Oklahoma State Legislature had to prevent the possibility of such a scenario from ever taking place.
Though Senator Shortey admitted that he was unaware of any company currently using such a practice, he asserted that the bill would help raise "public awareness" on the issue and give an "ultimatum to companies" that might dare to consider such a policy.
"It's not like I think companies are chopping up foetuses and using them as ingredients in food,'' said Shortey in a telephone interview with AFP. “What I am saying is that if it does happen then we are not going to allow it to manufacture here.”
Speaking to NewsOk, Shortey said that he had been researching the issue on the Internet for over a year now, with numerous reports suggesting to him that food companies might be using embryonic stem cells in their research.
“As a pro-life advocate, it kind of disturbed me that we would use aborted embryos or aborted human fetuses to extract stem cells and use them for research to basically make things taste better,” he said.
Unsurprisingly, Senator Shortey’s bill has since been met with ridicule; particularly on online blogs and the social networking site Twitter.
"Too much aborted human fetus in YOUR food? Senator Ralph Shortey can help!" read a tweet made online.
But Senator Shortey is sticking to his guns, though he admitted that he could have been a lot clearer in his phrasing of the bill.
"The unfortunate thing is, this has been framed as 'this guy doesn't like fetuses in food,' " said Shortey in a telephone interview with the Atlantic Wire. "I'm under no delusion. I don't think that's actually happening.”
“I want a serious conversation about this,” Shortey told the Los Angeles Times. “This wasn’t an open invitation for the country to chime in. This was an invitation to my colleagues to have this discussion.”
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) though have come out to deny the existence of such an issue.
"FDA is not aware of this particular concern,” said a spokeswoman to AP.
The chairman of the Senate Human Services Committee Republican Senator Brian Crain, to which Shortey's bill will most likely be assigned to, added that the bill was unlikely to be given much consideration given the more pressing issues at hand.
"We've got too many challenges facing Oklahomans today. We don't need to go looking for possible challenges that may come about sometime in the future," said Crain. "If it can be demonstrated that this is a challenge facing our food supply, then I think we need to act quickly, but there's been no demonstration that this is going on.”
"I'd hate to think we're going to spend our time coming up with possibilities of things we need to stop."