Products Should be Labeled When Based on Cells From Abortions

Opinion   |   Rebecca Taylor   |   Mar 13, 2012   |   10:40AM   |   Washington, DC

Recently there has been a lot of reporting about the use of cells from aborted fetuses to test or develop products. Specifically, LifeNews has been reporting on Senomyx, the California company that uses HEK 293 cells to test compounds as possible flavor enhancers. HEK 293 is a cell line taken from the kidneys of a fetus aborted in the 1970s. This cell line has since been genetically engineered with viral DNA and sold for various uses by common chemical supply companies. Senomyx was reported as having contracts with giants like Pepsi to test possible flavor enhancers.

I recently posted about Neuralstem which has likely developed a new drug for depression by testing compounds on a cell line that originated from an elective abortion.

In the past, I have argued for labeling on products where cells from aborted fetal cells were used in either the production or development so that we consumers could know about what unethical practices went into making what we buy. With the increasing media coverage, now is the time to make the push for labeling.

I did not realize that I was behind the times.

Children of God for Life, which broke the Senomyx-Pepsi story and exposed other companies like Neocutis, already has proposed legislation that would do just that. It is called the The Fair Labeling and Informed Consent Act. It would, among other things:

“require the manufacturers and distributors to provide information if the development or manufacture of their product uses aborted fetal material in any form including but not limited to cells, cell lines, tissues, DNA, recombinant DNA, monoclonal antibodies, blood, proteins or components thereof, in manufacturing or development.”

This legislation also proposes to revise the information provided by vaccine makers to include the fact that some vaccines are produced in cell lines MRC-5 and WI-38. Both cell lines were taken from aborted fetuses in the 1960s. Children of God for Life recommends this example of revised language in the Vaccine Information Sheet (VIS):

For MMR/Rubella (MMR II, Meruvax, MR-Vax, Biavax)

Because some patients may have religious or moral concerns about abortion, you are entitled to know that the rubella component of the MMR vaccine is propagated on cell lines obtained from an electively aborted fetus. The virus used in the vaccine was also obtained from an electively aborted fetus. Those vaccines contain residual DNA, cell components and proteins from the aborted fetal cell line.

There are alternatives for measles (Attenuvax) and mumps (Mumpsvax) available in separate shots, which are propagated on chick embryo and are equally safe and effective as the combined MMR vaccine. However, there is no alternative for the rubella vaccine in the United States at this time.

The legislation would also:

“protect the legal right of patients to give their valid informed consent by requiring that attending physicians, nurses, midwives, pharmacists or any other health care provider with the appropriate knowledge, shall provide all such information to patients before dispensing any product or treatment that contains human cell lines, tissues, proteins, DNA, recombinant DNA, monoclonal antibodies or any other components derived from elective abortion by amending the Vaccine Information Sheet.”

This is exactly what is needed or the use of cell lines that originated with an elective abortion will not only continue, but will expand. Companies like Neuralstem, ReNeuron, and vaccine makers Merck and GlaxoSmithKline will have to put labels on their products. Labels that inform both medical professionals and consumers that these products were made possible by the taking of innocent human life.

As Children of God for Life points out, Australia has already put legislation in place that requires “drug manufacturers disclose whether material from human embryos or embryonic stem cells was used in the manufacture or testing of drugs registered after 1 July 2004.” It is time the United States followed suit.

Especially since today, fifty-five members of the U.S. Congress sent a letter to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) calling on the agency to require the labeling of genetically engineered (GE) foods.

Labeling worked for testing on animals. It will likely work for genetically modified foods. I am sure it will work for testing or production using aborted fetal cell lines will as well.

To read more about Children of God for Life’s proposed legislation, and how you can get Congress to listen, visit The Fair Labeling and Informed Consent Act. There is a handy tri-fold brochure here. You can read more about Children of God for Life and their efforts to expose the use of cell lines from abortion at their website . They have an alternative vaccination schedule that you can discuss with your physician.

Until then, if you have a question about a vaccine, drug or cosmetic product and whether fetal cells have been used its development or production, you can contact Sound Choice Pharmaceutical Institute. Sound Choice Pharmaceutical Institute is headed by Theresa Deisher, one of the adult stem cell scientists fighting to ban federal funding for embryonic stem cell research. Sound Choice has created a “certification program to let consumers know how their vaccines, drugs and cosmetics are manufactured so that they can make informed choices about what to purchase.” Consumers can make inquiries through their certification page.