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Pepsi Shareholders Demand It Stop Using Aborted Fetal Cells

by Steven Ertelt | Washington, DC | LifeNews.com | 10/25/11 3:30 PM

National

Pepsi shareholders have filed a shareholder resolution with the Securities and Exchange Commission and PepsiCo demanding that the company has been contracting with a research firm that uses fetal cells from babies victimized by abortions to test and produce artificial flavor enhancers.

As recently as May, Pepsi ignored concerns and criticism from dozens of pro-life groups and tens of thousands of pro-life people who voiced their opposition to PepsiCo contracting with biotech company Senomyx even after it was found to be testing their food additives using fetal cells from abortions.

“The company’s key flavor programs focus on the discovery and development of savory, sweet and salt flavor ingredients that are intended to allow for the reduction of MSG, sugar and salt in food and beverage products,” the Senomyx web site says. “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.”

Debi Vinnedge, of the pro-life group Children of God for Life, explained, “What they don’t tell the public is that they are using HEK 293 – human embryonic kidney cells taken from an electively aborted baby to produce those receptors. They could have easily chosen animal, insect, or other morally obtained human cells expressing the G protein for taste receptors.”

In August 2010, PepsiCo entered into a four-year agreement with Senomyx for the development of artificial high-potency sweeteners for PepsiCo beverages. Under the contract, PepsiCo is paying $30 million to Senomyx for the research and future royalties on PepsiCo products sold using Senomyx technology. When the prolife group wrote both companies requesting they use one of several non-objectionable, viable cell lines listed in their patents, Senomyx did not respond. PepsiCo did reply however and insisted that its use of the research from Senomyx would produce “great tasting, lower-calorie beverages.”

With the boycott from supportive pro-life groups, including LifeNews.com, not changing PepiCo’s mind and further letters going unanswered, Vinnedge told LifeNews today the time has come for a resolution form shareholders.

“Shareholders have a right to know the truth about what PepsiCo is doing with their hard-earned savings,” she said. “PepsiCo’s lack of consideration to the public’s moral sensibilities has only served to fuel the fire and threatens stock values, retirement pensions and investments.”

Vinnedge said the PepsiCo shareholder who filed the resolution requested that “the Board of Directors adopt a corporate policy that recognizes human rights and employs ethical standards which do not involve using the remains of aborted human beings in both private and collaborative research and development agreements.” She said she finds it ironic that PepsiCo’s own Code of Conduct boasts that they “deal with customers, suppliers, the public and our competitors in an ethical and appropriate manner.”

“There is nothing ethical or appropriate in the way they are exploiting the remains of an innocent aborted child,” noted Vinnedge.

Vinnedge said she has heard from many pro-life advocates upset by the information about Pepsi — including one 12-year-old Florida boy who learned of PepsiCo’s research from his mom’s prolife news reports and was upset enough to take action himself. At a recent 40 Days for Life event, he told attendees, “When I found out about this, I was sick to my stomach.

“I decided I wouldn’t let this happen so I came up with a way to boycott Pepsi products called United Schools for Life. This program will attempt to remove all Pepsi products from the schools in our diocese,” Gene, who hopes to educate others about what Pepsi is doing, said. Vinnedge was deeply moved by his initiative and courage.

“We hope that PepsiCo senior management gives serious consideration to what this boy has done,” she noted. “Even a child knows this is wrong. God bless him for standing up for the unborn who have no voice of their own!”

After contacting Pepsi with their concerns, the beverage and food products company responded via email to pro-life advocates with an unsigned form response from “Pepsi Consumer Relations.”

“Thank you for contacting us to share your sincere concerns,” the PepsiCo response says. “Please be assured that PepsiCo is committed to using only the highest ethical methods in all aspects of our research. This is something we take very seriously, and we hold ourselves and all of our research partners to the same high standards as the world’s leading research centers.”

The email continues:  “With respect to the flavor discovery research with Senomyx, we utilize techniques that have been the gold standard for several decades by top universities, hospitals, U.S. government agencies, food and beverage companies, and essentially every pharmaceutical and biotech company in the world. Yet, there is some misinformation being circulated meant to distort what we’re doing and question our motives and those of other companies. This is unfortunate, and it is certainly not reflective of the work we are doing. We hope this information is helpful and reassuring. Thank you again for reaching out to us and allowing us to clarify the situation.”

In comments to LifeNews.com, Vinnedge says this is the latest example of PepsiCo avoiding or glossing over the criticism it receives.

“It seems that PepsiCo is simply not able to understand the concerns of consumers as they respond to their complaints with deceptive form letters,” she said.

“First, they tried to reassure the public their relationship with Senomyx was to produce “lower calorie great tasting beverages”.  Then after our first press release March 29th, they tried to insinuate the reports were false and they were being accused of doing aborted fetal research,” Vinnedge explained. “Now, as the full boycott begins, they brush off using aborted fetal cell lines as an industry gold standard.”

“Well, we have a message for PepsiCo,” the pro-life advocate continued. “We who are pro-life have a “gold standard” too. And that means we defend the sanctity of all human life
including the remains of innocent aborted babies that PepsiCo is exploiting for profit.”

“If they want to boycott to end, they need to tell Senomyx to start using moral sources for their research and development or they will sever their contracts,” she concluded.

Senomyx boasts that it has over 800,000 unique flavors for foods, Vinnedge says, but cells expressing certain proteins produce a chemical signal when the flavors are introduced, which determines if they have achieved the proper flavor. The aborted fetal cells are not in the product itself.

Pro-life organizations are asking the public to boycott all Pepsi drink products and encourage consumers to contact Pepsi management requesting that they sever all ties with Senomyx. Consumers are also encouraged to contact Campbell Soup and thank them for responding to pro-life concerns.

Pro-life groups joining Children of God for Life in the boycott to date are:  American Life League, Life Issues Institute, Concerned Women for America, Colorado Right to Life, American Right to Life, Sound Choice Pharmaceutical Institute, ALL Arizona, Central Nebraskans for Life, Pro-Life Waco, Houston Coalition for Life, Mother and Unborn Baby Fox Valley, Womankind, Billboards for Life, Movement for a Better America, Defenders of the Unborn, Focus Pregnancy Help Center, Idaho Chooses Life, EMC Frontline Pregnancy Centers of NY, Four Seasons for Life, CREDO,  Life Choices, STOPP Dallas, CA Right To Life, Human Life Alliance, International Right to Life Federation, Operation Rescue, the National Black Pro-Life Union, Black Students for Life, and Pro-Life Nation. LifeNews.com has joined the boycott call as well.

ACTION: Contact these companies…

Jamie Caulfield, Sr. VP
PepsiCo, Inc.
700 Anderson Hill Road
Purchase, NY 10577
(914) 253-2000
Email form: http://cr.pepsi.com/usen/pepsiusen.cfm?time=5189878