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The Senomyx dispute--You Decide

Nov 03, 2018

Yesterday I posted an article objecting to the use of kidney cells of aborted fetuses for use as flavor enhancers. It was then drawn to my attention that this is disputed.

It appears that Senomyx did do this back in 1973, and the use of such cells has continued to this day in medicines and vaccines. However, the medical field disputes any ill effects of this and objects mostly to the idea of “consuming” aborted fetuses (as in “eating” them).

In fact, in the last paragraph below, they admit that they can see why some people might object to this practice. That sounds like an admission that there is at least some truth to the assertion that aborted fetal tissue is being used in medicine and vaccines.

Here is their side of the issue as they defend their practice. You decide for yourself.


No person or entity is manufacturing food or other products intended for human consumption that contain aborted human fetuses. But some food companies are using cell lines that were originally derived from human fetuses in order to develop new food products. Moreover, many medicines and vaccines, which I suppose could be seen as "meant for human consumption." The Children of God For Life, which according to press reports inspired Shortey's bill, also opposes standard vaccines for chickenpox, rubella and hepatitis A and drugs such as Roche's Pulmozyme for cystic fibrosis and Amgen's Enbrel for rheumatoid arthritis. (See a list of products Children of God For Life say are unethical.)

The fetus-derived cell line we're talking about was also created around the time I was born. This is 35-year-old technology. And it is widely used in cell biology. And there is no way you'll consume them or that the cells would cause any health problems….

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. (Here's the original paper on the creation of the HEK cells. ) 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….

I don't think many people in science or in the drug business would think of using HEK cells as "using aborted fetuses." To a very large extent, the HEK 293 line is being caught up in the embryonic stem cell politics of a decade later. But I can see how people who think fetal tissue should never be used in any medicine would see a problem here. I can also understand how a lot of biotechnology can seem a little scary and Frankenstein-like, because it emphasizes how malleable and manipulable our basic parts are. The fact that we can so manipulate biology challenges our view of ourselves as spiritual beings in control of our own destinies.

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Category: Corruption
Blog Author: Dr. Stephen Jones