Fetal Cells Are Ingredients in Food and Drinks-Fiction!
Summary of eRumor:
Embryonic kidney cells from aborted babies are used as an ingredient in food and drinks.
Cells from aborted babies aren’t used as ingredients in food and drinks.
The claim first emerged in 2011 when Senomyx, a company that develops flavor ingredients, announceda partnership with PepsiCo. Their goal was to develop “high-potency sweeteners” to reduce the amount of sugar in soft drinks.
At the time, the anti-abortion group Children of God For Life issued a press release that said Senomyx had used human embryonic kidney cells (also called HEK 293) to test its products. The group called for a boycott of companies that had partnered with Senomyx.
The original claim that Senomyx had used HEK 293 to test its products appears to be true. But that original claim has morphed over the years. Today, viral emails and blogs claim that cells from aborted babies are used as ingredient, which is false.
“The cells, called HEK 293 cells (that stands for human embryonic kidney) were taken from an aborted fetus in the 1970s in the Netherlands. Bits of chopped up DNA from the adenovirus, a virus that causes a pretty severe cold. The kidney cells were forced to take up bits of DNA using a technique invented in 1973 that used a calcium solution. The resulting cells don’t act much like human cells at all, but they are very easy to work with and have become workhorses of cellular biology. That’s why they’re used in the development of drugs and vaccines. No new fetal tissue has been used to keep the cell culture going; the use of this cell line isn’t leading to new abortions.”
It seems that Senomyx has engineered HEK cells to function as human taste-receptor cells, ABC News reports:
“This way, Senomyx can test millions of substances to see if they work as different types of taste enhancers without subjecting human volunteers to endless taste tests.”
In 2008, Senomyx was awarded a patent on “recombinant methods for expressing a function sweet taste receptor” that lists HEK 293 as part of the process.
CBS News found in 2011 that many of the company’s 77 patents listed HEK 293.
The Miami New Times asked Gwen Rosenberg, the vice president of investor relations and corporate communications at Senomyx, about it in a 2011 interview:
“Asked about the action alert, Rosenberg said, ‘We don’t discuss details of our research, but you won’t find anything on our website about HEK 293.’ I asked Rosenberg if Senomyx had a position on stem cell research. ‘We’ve never been asked that,’ she replied, ‘We don’t have a position on anything. We’re dedicated to finding new flavors to reduce sugars and reduce salt. Our focus is to help consumers with diabetes or high blood pressure have a better quality of life.’”
So, while it appears that HEK 293 cells are used to develop and test new ingredients, the claim that the cells themselves are used for ingredients is false.
Are aborted baby kidneys used in food and drinks labeled as artificial flavors or natural flavors hek-293?