Oklahoma state Senator Ralph Shortey, a Republican, has introduced a new bill in his state legislature banning food products developed using aborted fetal material. The bill comes after a national outcry last year over Pepsi and other companies contracting with a company, Senomyx, 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. Pepsi now faces action from its shareholders.
“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.”
“People are thinking that this has to do with fetuses being chopped up and put in our burritos,” said Shortey, who was elected in 2010. “That’s not the case. It’s beyond that.”
“There are companies that are using embryonic stem cells to research and basically cause a chemical reaction to determine whether or not something tastes good or not,” he said. “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.”
However, the legislation has come under immediate attack from mainstream media outlets that Debi Vinnedge, Executive Director of Children of God for Life, which brought the problem to public attention in March 2011, says are inaccurate. An onslaught of articles reported by the mainstream media earlier this week ranged from utter disbelief to crass remarks denigrating Shortey over his bill.
“This is perhaps the worst case of irresponsible reporting by the mainstream media that we have witnessed in this millennium,” Vinnedge said. “A simple fact check would have revealed that Senator Shortey is correct about how some of our foods are being produced.”
The focus is on San Diego based biotech company Senomyx, who states on their website that, “We created proprietary taste receptor-based assay systems that provide a biochemical or electronic readout when a flavor ingredient interacts with the receptor.” 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, Vinnedge says.
As an example of just one of over 75 patents on file in which the aborted fetal cells are utilized, Senomyx states in US Patent number 7,297,543: “The invention provides a preferred mammalian cell lines, e.g., HEK-293 cells that stably express T1R2/T1R3 and G.sub..alpha.15 under inducible conditions. These cells are useful in cell-based assays for identifying compounds that elicit or modulate sweet taste.”
“Senomyx has entered into agreements with food giants, PepsiCo, Nestles and Cadbury Adams LLC, a division of Kraft Foods in which the companies pay Senomyx for the research and development of the flavor enhancers and then continue to pay royalties on the products sold. Some of these companies already have products on the market in the US using Senomyx flavors, whereas PepsiCo’s products are still in the development stage,” the pro-life advocate explains.
Because of this, Children of God for Life began a massive worldwide boycott of PepsiCo beverages when they admitted that would be the focus of their Senomyx research collaboration.
“PepsiCo has the ability to request that Senomyx use one of the morally acceptable cell lines available,” noted Vinnedge. “Unlike Campbell Soup who listened to the public and severed ties with Senomyx, PepsiCo has referred to the research as the “gold standard” for the industry; they have openly misled the public and created a public relations nightmare for themselves!”
“We stand firmly and proudly behind Senator Shortey who had the courage to step forward and protect the people of his State who have a right to know about these products,” she added. “Shame on those in the mainstream media who never bothered to check the facts before they began assaulting his good name.”
Children of God for Life hope other states will join Oklahoma’s efforts as well.
The PepsiCo boycott has garnered the support of over 30 pro-life groups and has now extended to nearly a dozen foreign countries. A shareholder resolution filed late last year with the Security and Exchange Commission by a concerned stockholder would require that PepsiCo “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.”
PepsiCo attorneys responded with a 36 page plea to the SEC in an attempt to quash the information. Both sides are currently awaiting the SEC ruling.
Read Senator Shortey’s bill here: