An Oklahoma bill that would ban the sale of food containing aborted human fetuses has some people wondering: What food currently contains aborted human fetuses?
The bill, introduced Jan. 18 by State Sen. Ralph Shortey, prohibits the manufacture or sale of "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."
Shortey declined to give specific examples but said some food manufacturers used stem cells in the research and development process.
"There is a potential that there are companies that are using aborted human babies in their research and development of basically enhancing flavor for artificial flavors," he told KRMG Radio. "I don't know if it is happening in Oklahoma, it may be, it may not be. What I am saying is that if it does happen then we are not going to allow it to manufacture here."
Shortey may be acting on claims that the San Diego-based company Semonyx used proteins derived from human embryonic kidney cells to test artificial sweeteners, NPR reported. The cell line, known as HEK 293, was created from a human embryo in 1970 and has become a staple in biochemistry labs around the world.
Some people are calling the bill a back-door attempt to ban embryonic stem cell research - a ban Shortey said he would support, KRMG reported.
Indeed, embryonic stem cell research is controversial. Critics argue it destroys embryos, which they consider the earliest form of life. But proponents say stem cell research could cure diseases. Last week, for example, embryonic stem cells were found to improve vision in two women who were legally blind.
If passed, the bill would take effect Nov. 1.