Thursday, March 15, 2012

Bill to Ban the Use of Aborted Human Fetuses in Food

Senate Bill 1418, introduced Jan. 18 by  State Sen. Ralph Shortey, prohibits the manufacture or sale of “food or any other product intended for human consumption which contains aborted human fetuses in the ingredients or which used aborted human fetuses in the research or development of any of the ingredients.”
Shortey declined to give specific examples but said some food manufacturers used stem cells in the research and development process.
“There is a potential that there are companies that are using aborted human babies in their research and development of basically enhancing flavor for artificial flavors,” he told KRMG Radio. “I don’t know if it is happening in Oklahoma, it may be, it may not be. What I am saying is that if it does happen then we are not going to allow it to manufacture here.”
Laine Doss of Miami New Times wrote "So what exactly is HEK293? It's a cell line that started in the 1970s from human embryonic kidney cells. The line was cultured by scientist Alex Van der Eb in the early 1970s at his lab at the University of Leiden, Holland. Since then, the cell line has been cultured and grown in laboratories. Its primary use is as a protein or a protein vessel -- sort of a natural test tube. It's also pretty common and seems to be available at most laboratory supply companies and used by many R&D facilities. In short, maybe not such a big deal."
Kraft Foods has contracted with a company called Senomyx to either research and/or use their flavor enhancement ingredient developed using the HEK-293 (Human Embryonic Kidney) cell line.  It is currently unclear whether HEK-293 developed ingredients are being used in Kraft's products because they refuse to respond and clear the matter up.  While the actual cells are not known to be physically present in the flavor enhancer itself, the close association with aborted fetal tissue and food/beverage products is revolting, to say the least.
In August 2010, PepsiCo entered into a 4-year agreement with Senomyx for the development of artificial high-potency sweeteners for PepsiCo beverages.  Under the contract, PepsiCo is paying $30 million to Senomyx for the research and future royalties on PepsiCo products sold using Senomyx technology.
According to the patent assigned to Senomyx "Methods for expressing a functional heteromeric taste receptor that responds to sweet taste stimuli are provided. These methods comprise the co-expression of T1R2 and T1R3 nucleic acid sequences in a host cell that desirably further expresses a G protein that couples therewith, e.g., G.sub..alpha.15, G.sub..alpha.16 or gustducin. In preferred embodiments, the host cells will be mammalian cells or Xenopus oocytes. These nucleic acid sequences are expressed constitutively or under inducible conditions. In preferred embodiments the expression methods will use HEK-293 cells that also stably express G.sub..alpha.15. These methods give rise to heteromeric receptors and compositions containing that are useful in assays for identifying novel sweeteners and sweetness modulators." The methods described in the patent state the method of claim 1, wherein said T1R2 polypeptide is a human T1R2 polypeptide comprising the amino acid sequence.
In a decision delivered Feb 28th, President Obama’s 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”.
The letter signed by Attorney Brian Pitko of the SEC Office of Chief Counsel was sent in response to a 36-page document submitted by PepsiCo attorneys in January, 2012. In that filing, PepsiCo pleaded with the SEC to reject the Shareholder’s Resolution filed in October 2011 that the company “adopt a corporate policy that recognizes human rights and employs ethical standards which do not involve using the remains of aborted human beings in both private and collaborative research and development agreements.”
PepsiCo lead attorney George A. Schieren noted that the resolution should be excluded because it “deals with matters related to the company’s ordinary business operations” and that “certain tasks are so fundamental to run a company on a day-to-day basis that they could not be subject to stockholder oversight.”

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