Company Using Aborted Fetal Cells in Flavors Shields Partners

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jul 15, 2011   |   10:13AM   |   Washington, DC

The company that was found to be testing their food additives using fetal cells from abortions is now working to hide the names of the corporations it contracts with as a pro-life boycott continues. reported on the controversy in March when information came to light showing biotech company Senomyx was found to be testing their food additives using fetal cells from a line based on cells from a baby victimized by abortion. Senomyx ignored a letter from the pro-life group Children of God for Life, which complained about its practices.

Now, the pro-life group informs that Senomyx is attempting to hide the names of their corporate partners by removing them from their website.

“Public backlash has apparently caused much consternation for the biomedical firm that has ignored consumer complaints and continues to use HEK-293 (human embryonic kidney) cells in the research and development of artificial flavor enhancers,” says Debi Vinnedge, executive director of CGL.

The move by Senomyx comes after PepsiCo, one of the biggest corporate partners, ignored pro-life criticism in a canned recent response to customer letters, saying, “With respect to the flavor discovery research with Senomyx, we utilize techniques that have been the gold standard for several decades.”

“If this ‘gold standard’ is no big deal, then why are they trying so hard to hide the truth?” asked Vinnedge. “PepsiCo and Senomyx have done everything in their power to trivialize what they are doing, when in fact what they are doing is only further damaging their public image.”

Vinnedge says she wrote to all of the members of the board of directors of PepsiCo in late June noting their responsibility to protect shareholders’ interests and cautioned that further action would be taken if nothing is done. Since PepsiCo is funding the research and development and will pay royalties to Senomyx for product sales, the company has the ability to change the technology being utilized, but she indicates none of the board members have responded.

“As we noted in our PepsiCo Board letter, consumers find it repulsive to associate aborted fetal kidney material with something they are about to drink,” Vinnedge stated. “We believe consumers have a right to know and choose other products.”

In several previous communications, Children of God for Life has called on all Senomyx partners to either end their affiliation with Senomyx or persuade them to use morally obtained cell lines, several of which are listed as viable alternatives in their own patents. The group is asking the public to continue their boycott efforts and have produced a one page flyer that can be downloaded and distributed.

“The boycott is working and if PepsiCo continues to ignore our requests, we will file a shareholder resolution,” warned Vinnedge.

“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, 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.”

After exposing the practice, Vinnedge’s group called for pro-life people to contact the companies using Senomyx to test their products. While some companies like Campbells stopped contracting with it, others did not.

“There are many options PepsiCo could be using instead of aborted fetal cells, including animal, insect, or other morally obtained human cells,” she told LifeNews. “The revelation—a potential public relations nightmare—motivated Campbell Soup to sever all relations with Senomyx. However, PepsiCo continues their business relationship despite the abortion connection. Their response earlier this year drew public ire when they wrote that “our collaboration with Senomyx is strictly limited to creating lower-calorie, great-tasting beverages for consumers.”

“When pressed further, PepsiCo attempted to pacify angry consumers with a form letter response in which they insinuated they had been accused of conducting aborted fetal tissue research,” she added. “Their duplicity again drew public outrage.”

Brad Mattes of the Life Issues Institute is another pro-life leader calling for a boycott.

“While aborted fetal cells aren’t actually in the product itself, the close relationship is enough to repulse most consumers.  To our knowledge, this is the first time a food product has been publicly associated with abortion,” he said.

Senomyx boasts they have 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 PepsiCo 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 and Pro-Life Nation. 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:

Thank Campbell at:

Edmund M. Carpenter, Chair, Corporate Development
Campbell Soup
1 Campbell Place
Camden, NJ 08103-1701
Email form: