Are Aborted Fetus Cells Helping to Make Your Diet Pepsi Sweeter?

Posted: November 15, 2011 in Local OC/LA News, US News

Laine Doss
Miami New Times
November 15, 2011

The Christian media is swarming with accusations that Senomyx, a San Diego-based research and development company, whose clients include food heavy-hitters Nestle, Campbell’s Soup, Kraft Foods, and PepsiCo, is conducting research with HEK293, originally derived from human embryonic kidney cells.

These accusations began with an action alert issued by Largo, Florida-based Children of God for Life, a nonprofit, pro-life organization focused on the “bioethical issues of human cloning, embryonic, and fetal tissue research.” In the alert, Debi Vinnedge, executive director of Children of God, calls for the public to “boycott products of major food companies that are partnering with Senomyx, a biotech company that produces artificial flavor enhancers, unless the company stops using aborted fetal cell lines to test their products.”

On the company website, Senomyx describes research to find new ways to improve food flavors by taking advantage of the mouth’s taste receptors. If you recall junior high school biology, the mouth can really taste only five flavors — sweet, sour, salty, bitter, and glutamate. The company is using isolated human taste receptors in the form of proteins to identify flavors and enhance them.

Gwen Rosenberg, vice president of investor relations and corporate communications for Senomyx, described the process as “basically a robotic tasting system.” She depicted rows of little plastic square dishes with hundreds of tiny indentations in each dish. A protein is placed in each indentation, then a flavor. If the protein reacts to the flavor, the results are charted. If the new flavor (of which the company has more than 800,000) is successful with the protein test, the company then conducts taste tests with (live) adult humans.

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