Afternoon Inquisition

AI: Fetus Free Food

Hey Oklahoma, you’re about to lose a delicacy.

Oklahoma State Senator Ralph Shortey, in a move proving that the skepticism is officially dead, is introducing a bill banning fetuses in food. Apparently he’s heard a rumor that a bunch of unspecified foods are being made out of aborted fetuses and rather than asking Snopes to check it out, he instead is outlawing it.

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,” says Shortey.

Yes. He thinks that “artificial flavoring” is actually abortion juice. Nevermind that there are already protocols in place for disposing of medical waste… and, as far as I know, none of those protocols legally allow shipping said waste to food manufacturers.

Really, I want to link this to something of substance and ask you all to comment on this in some meaningful way, but…

What the hell is wrong with people? Should politicians be required to at least Google if a problem is actually a problem before introducing a bill like this? What would someone even use artificial baby flavoring in? Which is more disgusting — the idea of fetus jerky or the fact that people believe it exists in our grocery stores? Does Europe ever have problems like this? 

The Afternoon Inquisition (or AI) is a question posed to you, the Skepchick community. Look for it to appear Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays, and Sundays at 3pm ET.

Fetus cookie image courtesy Stupid.com’s fetus cookie cutter and is not made of real fetuses. But if you’re in Oklahoma, you probably want to pick one up before Ralph Shortey freaks the fuck out and makes it illegal.

Elyse

Elyse MoFo Anders is the bad ass behind forming the Women Thinking, inc and the superhero who launched the Hug Me! I'm Vaccinated campaign as well as podcaster emeritus, writer, slacktivist extraordinaire, cancer survivor and sometimes runs marathons for charity. You probably think she's awesome so you follow her on twitter.

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46 Comments

  1. Well, to jump on the increasingly unlikely hypothetical scenario train: I say we also ban any clothing that might be manufactured by hyperintelligent mutant chickens who work in sweatshops … I can’t say for certain…for certain, mind you…that such a thing is happening, but it doesn’t hurt to be sure we are free of irradiated feathers in our jogging apparel.

  2. Ha ha.
    Are these people grown ups? Totally laughable. Or… I also feel like crying.

    Here in Norway it would be unthinkable to hear such outrageous statements from any public person. We have our share of nutters, but they are not taken seriously.

    Yet.

    But, times they are a changin… Vigilance is needed!

  3. What the hell is wrong with people? Apparently they were not properly breastfed as children.

    Should politicians be required to at least Google if a problem is actually a problem before introducing a bill like this? Google. What’s a Goolge? Is that some sorta sex act? Isn’t that what Rep. Weiner did, or something?

    What would someone even use artificial baby flavoring in? Atheist Chow?

    Which is more disgusting — the idea of fetus jerky or the fact that people believe it exists in our grocery stores? Disgust abounds, it lands everywhere.

    Does Europe ever have problems like this? Let’s see… GMOs, EHS, LHC, … no, all good! ;)

  4. I’m from Tulsa. Some thoughts on the bill.

    1) My home state continues to parody itself.
    2) Taco Bell can’t afford a hit like this.
    3) The bill specifies “human fetuses” and “food for humans,” leaving “baby seal fetuses” and “food for your dog” in the clear. That’s just wrong. It’s just plain wrong.

  5. Yeah, really not sure which is more insane, the “real” use of genetic engineering, to produce human collagen, so vegans are not eating the “product of other animals”, when they have jello (Sorry, but this is just insane, but then I think Vegans are living in a non-reality world as it is. One that would find itself in serious trouble if we ever had another dust bowl and had to start eating rats or something…), or the fact that some Republican actually thinks that Soilent Green is a real product in our food.

    1. Sigh. Most Vegan people are pretty sane and in the end don’t care what you eat. I think fake-meat stuff is pretty wacky but in the end, whatever, none of my business. That said, this really sin’t a debate about vegan vs. eating meat, so I’m not sure why you’re bringing up such a controversial subject, except to derail.

      We have enough crazy in this post without bringing up any more.

      I MEAN COME ON! This guy is just nuts! Let’s focus on that.

  6. This wave of all natural food has really caught on! Sarcasm aside, honestly, are these people getting paid for this? Really, if this was corporate America, you would be asked to resign. And is the Senator going to claim this on his facebook page? Yeah, that is right, I am the ONE that kept fetuses off your dinner plate.

  7. I really thought ‘The Great Tree Controversy’ were one of the most stupid things I had ever heard being discussed in public. But this tops it without a shadow of doubt.

    Well, in Germany, rumors have it, for instance, that tap water, usually supposed to be drinkable, were polluted by residues of medecine.
    But although many of our politicians are morons as well, I still consider the level of irrationality higher in the United States of America. I had never hear of something like this until I read this article.

  8. I’m lucky enough to live in Oklahoma as well…

    Of course our senior senator is Jim Inhofe who believes that global warming is the biggest hoax ever and thinks that lesbians attack girls in high school bathrooms and turn them gay. He also ocassionally tries to run people over while landing on closed runways, but that is one of the more normal things he does.

    Our other senator, Dr. Tom Coburn said, “I favor the death penalty for abortionists and other people who take life.” maybe for making fetus-flavored foods as well.

    I agree with smikey’s comment: “Sadly, the check on legislative ignorance is the electorate. So, we’ve gotta wait for the voters to do their job. I hope they’re smarter than this guy, but my gut says no.”

    Unfortunately for the rest of the nation, I firmly believe that Oklahoma has very accurate representation in Congress.

    At least I can claim “I’m not from here.”

  9. Actually, I believe there is at least one food additive company that uses a cell line derived from fetal cells to test their artificial flavors. I.e., they know that certain kinds of human cells have X reaction to sour flavor, and they can observe the reaction in disembodied human cells in vitro, which is presumable cheaper than hiring a bunch of taste testers for every step of the process. I’m working from memory here, but I looked it up a few months ago when the “Pepsi contains dead babies” story went around Facebook.

    So the question is, did he draft legislation that bans use of fetal cells in food research, regardless of whether they wind up in the food, or does he think Soylent Cola is people? The former would be a hysterical and esoteric, but not wholly illogical law, while the latter would just be monumentally stupid.

    1. I’m pretty sure it’s the former. I read this on NPR which gave a little more balanced view on it, and here’s what the bill says:

      “No person or entity shall manufacture or knowingly sell 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.”

      It’s a little overly broad, but the point is he’s trying to ban the food industry from using stem cells harvested from aborted fetuses. There was some evidence that someone use stem cells in the researching of flavor enhancers, though no evidence exists if it was fetal stem cells or not.

      But, allow me to slant the discussion back into the correct direction, this is just one of those rinky dink laws intended to “pile on” the issue of abortion. The religious right will stop at nothing to stop a woman’s right to chose and their current tactic is to build momentum towards banning abortion. Pass a number of “restrictions” and people start saying “look at all these restrictions to abortion, the people will it!” when many of those restrictions are nothing at all.

      Why else would he say “fetuses” instead of “fetal stem cells”? Someone on the religious right considers this some kind of victory.

        1. Miscarriages are actually abortions medically speaking; they just aren’t necessarily the results of abortion procedures or drugs.

          So sadly, the BBQ may be at jeopardy unless we can put a rider in that bill ASAP!

  10. The first thing an elected official should learn once taking office is how to fucking google or hit snopes. The FIRST thing. It only takes a few keystrokes to validate some of this shit.

    For ex: http://message.snopes.com/showthread.php?t=16208

    NZ MPs fell for the dihydrogen monoxide (water) hoax.

    If they’d jumped on snopes or even fucking wikipedia, I’m sure they would have figured out that someone was trying to pull a fast one on them. :/

  11. *sigh* Apparently, our politicians need a refresher course in English 101. Jonathan Swift, we have need of you! Seriously, though, there are already laws on the books about using human body parts, and I’m fairly certain that fetuses (aborted ones, not the parasitic ones) are considered bio-hazards and must be disposed in those garish (and slightly macabre) red bags. So, either the good Senator is unfamiliar with any laws in his state pertaining to the disposal of bio-hazards, and has seen “Soylent Green” one too many times (possible, since it’s Charlton Heston), or he’s an absolutely close-minded reactionary nutcase (and yes, neither of these is mutually exclusive). The third possibility involves parody on the level of the afore-mentioned Swift’s “A Modest Proposal” in an attempt to bring attention to the ridiculous nature of some of the recent laws passed, but that’s outside of the realm of probability. Gotta say, how the hell did this guy not only run and win a campaign, but make it out of high school?

  12. OK, I tracked down some information. Now, the only references I can find to the taste receptors being derived from fetal kidney cells are pro-life sites, but it is true that until recently Senomyx’s web site looked like this: http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:_WmSIJyGMcUJ:www.senomyx.com/flavor_programs/+&cd=1&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us&client=firefox-a and said “Using isolated human taste receptors, we created proprietary taste receptor-based assay systems that provide a biochemical or electronic readout when a flavor ingredient interacts with the receptor.”

    They recently updated their page to read simply, “We created proprietary taste receptor-based assay systems that provide a biochemical or electronic readout when a flavor ingredient interacts with the receptor.”

    So they certainly seem sensitive about the issue, but I haven’t found a solid source for the claim that they use cells derived from aborted fetuses. Will keep digging . . .

    (FTR, I don’t care if they used fetal cells, except as it influence the level of idiocy of this legislation.)

  13. Ouch, the stupid… It hurts…
    I’ve often complained about the stupidity of politicians here in Europe, especially when it comes to GMOs, nuclear energy and homeopathy, but I’ve never seen anything on this level.
    Although it does remind me of a clip from belgian television, where, as a way of critisizing companies using ‘sustainable produce’ labels a band of comedians tried to market ‘ecologically friendly rat poison’ and ‘seal free paint’ (may contain traces of panda). The response from people in the shop was amazing, with one woman even saying (and I’m paraphrasing here: “well, I can understand that there may be some traces of panda in the paint, but at least there are no seal cubs in there. I guess when technology gets more advanced, there won’t be any panda in it anymore”.
    Some people just don’t think. They just don’t.
    Here’s a link to the clip, but it’s in dutch, so most here probably won’t understand it.

    1. I’m getting tired of everything being called a Poe just because it seems ridiculous. I think it’s safe to say that our government is full of idiots. This isn’t shocking or new. Calling it a Poe when it’s not (this is a real guy after all) just undermines the seriousness of having someone so stupid in office, not to mention the fact that this is clearly just a thinly-veiled attempt at encroaching on the rights fo women (as someone else expanded on above).

      1. I don’t think it’s an attempt to make it less serious. I hoped it was a Poe. The alternative is too frightening.

        Man, this makes me want to seal off the borders of non-reservation land in Oklahoma. It makes me wonder if voters, when they move south of the Manson-Nixon line, get stupid because of the heat. I really, really try to reach out to people who can be convinced of you know, reality. But this kind of stuff makes me think that the Bible Belt folks wallow in ignorance to spite the rest of us. Inhofe was elected. So was Coburn.

        But I should not be surprised, I guess.

  14. Your tax dollars at work, fellow Americans.

    Holy crap, don’t they have interns or something that can at least LOOK INTO THE VALIDITY OF A RIDICULOUS AND OUTLANDISH CLAIM BEFORE LEGISLATING AROUND IT?

    I don’t usually type in all caps, but seriously, there is no other response to this except rage and confusion. I want to tear paper with my teeth because of this Senator.

  15. OK, at the grocery store, the cans with pictures of peas have peas in them, and the cans with pictures of corn have corn in them. So how about all those tiny little jars with pictures of babies on them? The contents have to come from somewhere.

    And even if they ban fetuses for human consumption, topical application would still be OK, so it shouldn’t affect production of baby oil or baby powder.

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