Pepsi Denies Using Aborted Fetal Cells for Flavor Testing

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Mar 15, 2012   |   4:42PM   |   Washington, DC

PepsiCo has come under fire from pro-life advocates because it has been contracting with a research firm that uses fetal cells from babies victimized by abortions to test and produce artificial flavor enhancers. Not it is denying those allegations.

In an article to media outlets like LifeNews that are write about pro-life advocates complaining about the testing, Jeff Dahncke, the Senior Director for Communications for PepsiCo writes:

Dear XXXX,

“I saw your article this morning and wanted to take a moment to correct the misperceptions and erroneous information that has appeared in some media reports. The following can be attributed to a spokesperson for PepsiCo:

PepsiCo does not conduct or fund research, including research performed by third parties, which utilizes any human tissue or cell lines derived from embryos or fetuses. We clearly communicate this in our statement on responsible research on PepsiCo’s website, which is available here: Any research funded by PepsiCo and conducted by Senomyx for PepsiCo must abide by this responsible research statement.

Pepsi NEXT is a new cola that uses a blend of existing sweeteners to offer a true cola taste with lower sugar and lower calories. While this blend is novel, the sweeteners themselves are not, and Senomyx has no involvement with the development of the Pepsi NEXT recipe.

I hope this is helpful. Please let me know when you can correct your story to reflect this information.

Meanwhile, emails sent to pro-life advocates from Pepsi staff in response to complaints, say:

“Thank you for contacting us at PepsiCo. There are no stem cells, cell lines derived from embryos or fetuses, or fetal tissues in any PepsiCo products. The integrity of our products is critical to PepsiCo, and we use only ingredients that meet all FDA and other regulatory standards. Thank you again for taking the time to contact us.”

LifeNews contacted Debi Vinnedge, Executive Director of Children of God for Life, the organization that exposed the PepsiCo- Senomyx collaboration last year, for a response.

“Pepsi is in panic mode it seems,” she said. “They have been contacting media outlets telling them that they are not funding any research using cells or tissues from embryos or aborted fetuses, however this is pure deception on their part.”

“The HEK-293 was indeed produced from the kidneys of an aborted fetus in the 1970s.  From that tissue, they will produce what is known as a “cell line” by culturing the cells in a petri dish in the lab,” she explained. “Those cells are then subsequently frozen, patented and then made available for researchers through organizations such as the NIH, American Type Cell Culture, Coriell Labs, etc who sell these cell lines to researchers.  So when Pepsi says they are not taking the cells from a fetus or embryo, what they really mean is they are taking them from the lab.”

“Were it not true that Pepsi is funding this research to the tune of $30 million paid up front plus royalties to Senomyx in the future, you can be assured they would have asked for a swift dismissal of the shareholder resolution filed with the SEC in a quick paragraph,” Vinnedge continued. “Instead, they wrote a 36 page response detailing previous exclusions by the SEC on other companies that also use aborted fetal or embryonic material such as Pfizer, GE and Merck.”

Vinnedge says the PepsiCo response saying that no cells from aborted babies are in any of its products is coming in response to people who never asked about whether such cells were in the products in the first place.

The responses from Pepsi come on the heels of the Obama administration facing criticism because an agency has declared that Pepsi’s use of the company and its controversial flavor testing process constitutes “ordinary business.”

In a decision delivered February 28, the Security and Exchange Commission ruled that PepsiCo’s use of aborted fetal remains in their research and development agreement with Senomyx to produce  flavor enhancers falls under “ordinary business operations.”