PepsiCo announced Tuesday that it is giving into a petition made by anti-abortion organization Children of God for Life and other pro-life advocates who demanded in 2011 that the soft drink company stop using aborted fetal cell lines to develop flavor enhancers for its beverages.
"We are absolutely thrilled with PepsiCo's decision," said Debi Vinnedge, Children of God for Life's Executive Director. "They have listened to their customers and have made both a wise and profound statement of corporate integrity that deserves the utmost respect, admiration and support of the public."
PepsiCo's Vice President of Global Public Policy, Paul Boykas, even sent a letter to Children of God announcing the company's decision and confirmed that they will not be using HEK-293 (human embryonic kidney), or "any other tissues or cell lines derived from human embryos or fetuses for research." Boyakas admitted that the issue was a highly controversial one that had led way to "highly sensitive" internal discussion within the company.
"We took the matter very seriously," stated Boykas. "We have an official Statement on Responsible Research and we intend to live by that policy."
A number of other pro-life organizations who joined in the boycott of PepsiCo beverages last May celebrated the announcement and declared the boycott to be over.
"We are grateful to PepsiCo and especially to all those who sent a loud and clear message to the management of this company. It's incumbent upon us to closely monitor the situation to be sure that PepsiCo remains true to their word," said Brad Mattes, Executive Director of Life Issues Institute. "There are moral cell lines Senomyx can and should be using – not just for PepsiCo research but for all their customers."
Senomyx, a California-based company, had entered a four-year agreement with PepsiCo in Aug. 2010, with a mission to "develop innovative flavor ingredients for the food, beverage, and ingredient supply industries." PepsiCo had been paying $30 million to Senomyx to develop and test new flavors. Part of the research included using cell lines to test flavors – chemical signals let the testers know they have an exact flavor match.
Vinnedge of Children of God for Life said back in 2011 that PepsiCo had many other options it could use for research instead of human embryonic kidney cells, including insect cells and yeast cells.
Now that the issue has been resolved, Vinnedge is calling on pro-life supporters to recognize the correct decision the company has made.
"Too often we seem to focus on the negatives and forget to take the time to let others know we appreciate their efforts. It is our sincere hope that the public will once again rise to the occasion en masse as they did in the boycott – but this time in appreciation and support of PepsiCo," she concluded.