“Watch What You Eat” and Drink: Conspiring Men?

Image from pepsico.com

I usually stick to topics about parenting and family life, but I can’t resist posting this. Has anyone else been watching the blogs out there about Pepsi Co and all its companies being involved in using aborted baby kidney cells to enhance flavors in their products? I would love an open forum on this. I have only been researching this for a few days, but am shocked at what I have found.

This gives “Watch what you eat” a whole new meaning.

It also gives, “conspiring men of the last days” a whole new understanding.

Here are some links to articles about the issue.

http://bryankemper.com/2011/05/27/pepsi-is-using-aborted-baby-cells-to-develop-flavor-enhancers-boycott-called-against-pepsico/

http://www.lifenews.com/2011/05/30/pepsi-ignores-criticism-on-use-of-aborted-cells-in-research/

http://causa-nostrae-laetitiae.blogspot.com/2011/03/aborted-baby-cells-used-to-make-pepsi.html

http://gerardnadal.com/2011/06/01/pepsi-aborted-babies-ethics-and-tasteful-research/

http://www.lifesitenews.com/news/pro-life-groups-call-for-pepsi-boycott-over-aborted-fetal-cell-lines/

http://blogs.miaminewtimes.com/shortorder/2011/03/are_aborted_fetus_cells_helpin.php

http://www.coloradorighttolife.org/node/305 (lists lots of the drinks)

Response from Kraft/Cadbury

Kraft/Cadbury Adams LLC (chewing gum, cough drops, etc – not chocolate eggs which are made by Hersheys)

“Thank you for taking the time to contact Kraft Foods. I understand and appreciate your concerns regarding Kraft and its affiliation with Senomyx. Our highest priority
is the safety and quality of our products and the safety of our consumers. All of the flavors we use are approved and deemed safe for food use by regulatory agencies,
including the FDA. Our collaboration with Senomyx is to discover novel ingredients that positively impact food flavors, similar to what already is being widely used in
foods and beverages today.”

Kim McMiller
Associate Director, Consumer Relations

This is my take on all of it. I am shocked, but some how not surprised all at the same time. I really understand what goes into junk food and am even more inspired to eat natural. I don’t trust the FDA. (This isn’t a new one for me though) I see more clearly how government agenda can get sucked into big business. I don’t drink soda, or eat junk food much, but I will stay away from Pepsi, Mountain Dew, Sierra Mist, Gatorade, Aquafina, Tropicana, Frito Lay etc. (Not that I ever really used these products in the past anyway.)

What are your thoughts?

Nicholeen Peck’s blog http://teachingselfgovernment.com  

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20 thoughts on ““Watch What You Eat” and Drink: Conspiring Men?

  1. I’m not sure if I read you wrong, but from how I interpreted your post I think you are greatly mistaken about what Pepsi Co and Senomyx are doing.

    First, there is no “watch what you drink” here because no one is putting human embryonic cells (or extracts) into beverages. What you are drinking is still a bunch of synthetic mumbo jumbo that you may not want in your body, but it is not in any way human in origin.

    Second, no one is directly using human embryonic cells to “enhance flavors in their products.” What Senomyx does is use HEK293 cells as an experimental model in their lab research to test new compounds—and then some of those new compounds are used to enhance flavors. Incidentally, those same cells are used in nearly every type of biomedical research around the world (I used probably trillions of them in grad school.)

    Third, Senomyx had absolutely nothing to do with aborting fetuses to make the HEK293 cells. The cells they use are from a cell line that has been transformed to be what scientists call “immortal”: meaning that the cells will grow and divide again and again in a culture dish (doubling time is about 24-48 hours). Typically, cells isolated from any multicellular organism will only divide a few times before they just stop dividing—and then you only have cells for a few days before they all die. Transforming a cell line allows you to isolate it once and then just keep perpetuating it forever. And in this case, the cells are grown and frozen and shipped from scientist to scientist around the world. You can call the original isolation/acquisition of the cell line an immoral act, but by using the cells Senomyx is no more promoting the abortion of fetuses than you and I promote mass extinction of dinosaurs every time we drive our car.

  2. Brian beat me to it. Thanks!

    This is akin to refusing modern medicine because a great deal of our medical knowledge was obtained from Nazi human experiments. (Which it was.)

  3. Your first paragraph sent my BS detectors off–big time. Usually when I see things like this I go straight to Snopes–but apparently this is so new or so obscure that Snopes hasn’t touched it yet. Still, I agree with the first two commenters.

    There are evil companies out there, doing evil things–giving our kids asthma, cancer, and all other kinds of nastiness (especially in Utah right now). And lots of companies encouraging us to become addicted to alcohol, tobacco, caffeine, and sugar, substances which can wreak havoc on our systems. You don’t have to look too far to find conspiring men.

    How about an article about conspiring men who are giving our children (as well as adults) awful diseases? Dr. Pope at BYU has proven how dangerous air pollution is, yet conspiring men in Utah continue to soil the air in Utah, and at an increasing rate. http://www.sltrib.com/sltrib/news/52083340-78/kennecott-pollution-permit-quality.html.csp.

  4. “companies being involved in using aborted baby kidney cells to enhance flavors in their products”

    I suppose this sentence is factual, but it skips over the important part as already pointed out by the other commenters. The cells are clearly not being used in the products which this sentence implies. Ultimately, I agree with the sentiment of this post. I think the people complaining about pollution, etc. are also correct that it is a serious issue.

    But I don’t know if someone is conspiring to pollute, as much as it’s a natural byproduct of mining, coal burning, etc. etc. But nearly every food company can be guilty of conspiring to obfuscate their food and try to represent it as being good for you. Even labels which show the nutrients, etc. mislead as to what is really there. A nutrient is not equal to a nutrient… often in the processing and packaging nutrients can get denatured, but still counted as the same. Who knows what our bodies do with these? (I’m not saying you grow a third ear or anything, but I also would not be surprised a lot of the “nutritious” foods we see in shops have nutrients that have little to no effect due to the type of nutrient it is, as well as the denaturing process, etc.)

    I definitely don’t drink any soda except on extremely rare occasions (once every couple months?), and juice is only a few times a week, or unless I’m sick. I think there is a lot to the word of wisdom that is plainly set out as the order and will of God. He’s given us a lot there that he is expressly not commanding us to do, and seeing if we want to use our own wisdom to try our best to change some of our habits.

    So I think generally it’s good counsel just to suggest people to stop drinking soda and many of these products in general. I realize its next to impossible to get away from shelf-foods altogether in this day and age and I don’t think we’re going to get diseased and die if we eat them in moderation. But I do think our bodies could be much healthier and will point to the story of Daniel and the King’s food and drink. To the extent we try as much as possible to avoid taking in the food of Babylon, I think we’ll be blessed, but I hasten to add we need to act in wisdom and moderation.

  5. I’d also just say in this case it seems likely that using those kidney cells could specifically be to make their drinks safer. Sure they could use something that just tastes good and doesn’t cause you to drop dead or get ill, but it appears they are actually looking at the impact their flavor enhancers have on your kidney cells. That’s something that’s good in the long run I suppose as it could lead to drinks that don’t do as much damage. But to me, that’s all the more reason to recognize we should just stick with water/milk/etc!

  6. Chris,

    You’re right–I don’t think these companies are actually conspiring to cause asthma, etc. They’re just intent on making a profit, without really caring too much about who they hurt in the process.

  7. This is much ado about nothing. I believe there’s a reason none of the sources listed are reputable news outlets. BrianK has covered everything else that needs to be said in my opinion. Pro-life activists risk their credibility by making things like this a big issue. I almost wish it WERE true just so I could have used it to troll the scumbag anti-choicers that accosted my ten-year-old last month.

    Also, this was released from Pepsi in response to these reports.

    Thank you for contacting us to share your sincere concerns. Please know that we take very seriously the issues you raised. PepsiCo has a strong set of defined values we strive to live up to.

    Unfortunately, there is some misinformation being circulated related to research techniques that have been used for decades by universities, hospitals, government agencies, and private companies around the world. These claims are meant to suggest that human fetal tissue is somehow used in our research. That is both inaccurate and something we would never do or even consider.
    It also is inaccurate to suggest that tissue or cells somehow are being used as product ingredients. That’s dangerous, unethical and against the law. Every ingredient in every one of our products is reviewed and approved for use by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
    We hope this information is helpful and reassuring. Thank you again for reaching out to us and allowing us to clarify the situation.
    Margaret Corsi
    Consumer Relations Representative
    012652224A

    And when it comes to “conspiring men”, Tim makes a great point. There’s no reason to make up ways men are conspiring to hurt us, men are doing it every day to our air and water.

  8. chris, 5: These are small corrections, but I thought I’d clarify in case you were interested:

    I don’t believe that the primary purpose of using the cells is to make drinks safer. Rather, it is to have a sort of “living test tube” where taste receptors can be made (in cells that normally would not make them) and then numerous compounds screened for ones that elicit a response in the cells. This way, one can identify compounds that affect (in various ways) different taste receptors. Imagine you have a lock and you want to identify anything that can open it; this is a way of screening thousands and thousands of keys all at once.

    Health concerns would be addressed at much later stage. (Although certainly anything that outright killed the HEK293′s would be flagged.)

    It’s also unlikely that the experiments are designed to test effects on human kidneys. True, the cells were derived from human kidneys, but the transformation process made them unlike any cell you have in your body. They’re not really “kidney cells” anymore. (In fact, they never were really “kidney cells” in the way you might think, since HEK293 cells come from undifferentiated fibroblasts.)

  9. As for “conspiring men,” I think it’s clear that the conspirators in this case are the pro-lifers who constructed and are perpetuating this rumor!

  10. I agree with commenters above that there is very little to this Pepsi story, but the general concept is worth considering. What degree of connection is too close for our moral good? Consider a couple passages from a paper from a few years ago, on “The structure and innervation of the male urethra” (bolding added by me):

    “We studied ten normal male human fetuses (114-342 mm, or between 14 and 40 weeks of gestation) obtained by therapeutic or spontaneous abortions during autopsy. [...] We chose ten fetuses, between 14 and 40 weeks of gestation, because at the 15th week of gestation the fetus shows a clear differentiation between striated and smooth muscles, while the fetus at term can be macroscopically dissected and the basic pattern of the sphincter is established at this stage.”

    “In the fetus, relatively thick nerves are surrounded by a small amount of connective tissue, and these nerves are much easier to identify than those of adult specimens. In fact, pelvic nerve-sparing techniques applied in adults are based largely on microscopic investigations of fetuses.

    So, what should a man opposed to abortion and requiring prostate surgery do?

  11. The difference to me would be, are babies being aborted to make my prostate surgery possible? If not, the fetuses (feti?) are no different to me then any other tissue used for research.

  12. Thank you all so much for sharing your thoughts on this. I thought the whole topic was very interesting. Now, obviously I don’t often follow scientific food tampering too much, but when I came across this I was a bit shocked.

    I did know things like horse urine and such are used in medicine, but this is the first time I have heard of aborted babies being used for food research or production.

    There are obviously way too many chemicals (not food at all) in our foods these days. The purpose is obviously to increase sales due to chemical reactions in the body. This is obviously not a new kind of science, but I do think using dead babies is new. It also makes me wonder if we would get to a point when someone would have an abortion just to make a few bucks from a laboratory. Just like some people in the slums donate blood to make their living.

    The whole thing just made me go Hmmmmmmmm. Thanks for adding food to my thoughts on this issue.

    I still couldn’t be happier that I have never had a taste for soda, especially Pepsi.

  13. Remember how people used to picket to save little bunnies from being used in laboratories? Why aren’t people picketing this?

  14. “…but this is the first time I have heard of aborted babies being used for food research or production.”

    But that’s just it: aborted babies are not being used for food research. (At least not in this case—I don’t want to make a blanket statement about things I don’t know about.)

    “Why aren’t people picketing this?”

    Because there’s nothing to picket. There is no connection between the research and any abortion. You might just as well call for a boycott of nearly every drug used today because at some point in their development HEK293 cells were likely used.

    I don’t intend for this to sound overly-critical, but I think you’re still not understanding what’s going on at Senomyx and Pepsi Co.

  15. This all seems so serious when you look at it in the context of lemonade stands being busted for not having the “right permits”. Maybe the govt should focus on the big guys, not kids selling lemonade.

  16. “Solient Green are people!”

    Sorry, had to throw that in. As to the discussion? I don’t trust the FDA, or any government agency, much myself; yet for a different reason. I Go by Pres. Reagan’s moto of less government means more freedom, “When the government says they are here to help, run away.”

    My biggest concern is alcohol companies. Everyone points to all the bad that happened in the prohibition era, but they ignore all the reasons it came about that are by the numbers ten times worse. There are broken homes, dead bodies from “accidents,” ruined job performance, violence, increased crime (more are committed under the influence than sober), increased incidents of drug use, and health problems. You can’t put this kind of blame on snack food other than lack of good health.

    I think we should start doing to alcohol companies what has happened to the tobacco industry. They were put on congressional trial, sued, users marginalized, labels about health risks slapped on them, and taxed to near extinction. Technically smoking is far from illegal and not gone, but the message has been loud and clear without an outright ban that created an underground 30s black market. For all that John Huntsman Jr. did that makes me not want to vote for him, my biggest criticism is the relaxing of alcohol restrictions in Utah.

  17. I did know things like horse urine and such are used in medicine, but this is the first time I have heard of aborted babies being used for food research or production.

    Did you read the comments? I don’t think you understand what’s happening here.

    <blockquote.I Go by Pres. Reagan’s moto of less government means more freedom, “When the government says they are here to help, run away.”
    So run away unless they’re helping stop things you don’t agree with like alcohol and cigarette use?

    Reagan, the king of soundbites and lack of substance.

  18. So long as the government exists I will use it on occasion for my advantage. So long as the government exists I will fight it more often than not. I am not a libertarian, and its called politics.

  19. I posted this before. It even got sent to my inbox, but for some reason it isn’t on the site. Here it is again.

    jjohnson-
    I did read your comments, but I think we view this differently. I do care about aborted babies becoming nothing more than tissue. (even though that is obviously what the mother thought they were.) Maybe some will consider me a softy, or ignorant in scientific matters. I know Galen dug up dead bodies to learn more about the body and to improve medicine.

    This isn’t medical though. It’s food. It’s about taste. Increased taste encourages gluttony.

    Some think of discoveries with this issue and maybe consider it ingenious anatomy research. While I consider it immoral and unnecessary. Someone above mentioned that maybe it would be good to make sure the drinks wouldn’t hurt me. How can you tell if something will hurt you when the subject is already dead? Also, aren’t food and drinks supposed to already be meant for human consumption? If bottled water isn’t bottled water, but is a chemical which ‘might’ hurt me instead, then the FDA has already failed me and I shouldn’t drink it.

    The fact that they are using a dead baby for testing a food product makes no sense unless the chemical they are using is not a food and is meant to play with our body chemicals in some way which increases profits for some company, or funds a bill on capitol hill.

    When I came across this story, I feared for our societies moral future, not for the future of the soft drink and junk food industry. They are paying too high of a price for snack food. No, for them to cross this line the research company must know this chemical (cells) has great power and will make great money.

    Why would Pepsi, who has been around a long time want to even work on this project? Are it’s products not good enough? Why would any company who built their empire on certain products want to change those products, unless the change would ultimately make them more money than keeping the products the same. So, will Pepsi disclose the research method used on it’s bottles to get us all excited about buying more Gatorade or Aquafina? I highly doubt it. So why would they do the research?

    I think they are doing this to control us some how. If they can control our cravings for instance, then we would buy more of what we crave.

    What exactly is a food enhancer? It could be anything. And, I already know that the FDA doesn’t require many many ingredients, which are food enhancers, to be declared. They say the amounts are too small to make any difference etc. Well, if they are too small to make any difference then why would they buy them from research companies, or put them in?

    It doesn’t add up. I read a book once written by a guy who used to be on the board of a pharmaceutical company. He said they made back room deals with the FDA all the time and that their company made things which would increase cravings for food companies just so that there would be a bigger market for weight loss drug they also marketed.

    When I heard his story it made sense to me. I don’t think it’s a rumor. To say it’s a rumor is just as easy, if not easier, than making up the rumor. I guess we each get to decide on this one.

    Also, I have always believed like JettBoy. Too much government involvement always goes against freedom. That is why our constitution was set up like it was. While the FDA seems like it should be helpful, it’s power, without anyone checking up, is down right frightening.

    So, it sounds like we both have different points of reference.

    The very reason I brought up this topic was to see if anyone else had been reading about this and to hear thoughts on it. The thoughts, although not all alike, have been very interesting. We all see things so differently. This is a good thing in many ways. Differing opinions also keep us free. That is why Brigham Young assigned some families to be Democrats and some to be Republicans. He said that there had to be differing opinions to keep the people free. I agree with this philosophy even though we obviously don’t agree with each other on this issue.

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