01-04-2011 04:57 PM
Back in the early 1970s, a scientist in Holland and another scientist who
moved from Holland to Canada took some kidney cells from a "healthy
aborted fetus" and created a new cell line called HEK 293 (the "HEK" part
stands for "Human Embryonic Kidney"). This cell line, according to
Wikipedia, "has been widely-used in cell biology research for many years"
and it has also been "used by the biotechnology industry to produce
therapeutic proteins and viruses for gene therapy."
These fetal cells are apparently rather easy to obtain; you can buy some
here for a few hundred bucks:
And now it turns out that a company called Senomyx got a patent three
years ago for developing a method by which these fetal cells could be used
to test the taste (specifically, the sweetness) of things.
So now, in the last few days, a pro-life group has been raising the alarm
and pointing to specific food corporations that have hired Senomyx to test
the taste of their foods using "taste receptors" developed from this cell
line. The list of corporations that have hired Senomyx for this purpose
includes PepsiCo, Kraft, Nestle and Solae (a soy ingredients supplier) --
and the list *did* include Campbell's, but apparently Campbell's cut its
ties with Senomyx shortly after they were contacted about this.
Naturally, the tendency to sensationalize these things has led some people
to issue cries of "Soylent Green", but as far as I can tell, there is no
evidence that human tissue is being put into the foods themselves. And if
I'm reading everything correctly, it looks like the headline on the
pro-life group's article might be a bit misleading when it refers to
"abortions" in the plural; all the fetal cells in question seem to come
from a single fetus that was aborted nearly 40 years ago.
So ... thoughts? Responses? Should we boycott PepsiCo (makers of Pepsi,
Doritos, Quaker Foods, Tostitos, Gatorade, etc.) and Kraft (makers of
Maxwell House coffee, Kool-Aid, Cadbury chocolates, Oscar Mayer, Nabisco,
Oreos, etc.) and Nestle (makers of Cheerios, Dreyer's ice cream,
Haagen-Dazs, Canadian Oreos, Quality Street chocolates, etc.) while going
out of our way to buy Campbell's products (which include soups, obviously,
but also include Prego pasta sauce, V8 vegetable juice, etc.)?
Should we research all the *other* ways the HEK 293 cell line has been
used over the years, and reject or boycott all the medicines and therapies
that may have resulted? And should we probe all the *other* food
corporations out there to see what cells *they* are using?
dadl-ot mailing list
01-04-2011 05:00 PM
> Naturally, the tendency to sensationalize these things has led some people
> to issue cries of "Soylent Green", but as far as I can tell, there is no
> evidence that human tissue is being put into the foods themselves.
No. But just as people object to using products that have been tested on
animals, I can see people objecting to this. I do.