Using information from the human genome sequence, Senomyx ( has identified hundreds of taste receptors and currently owns 113 patents on their discoveries. Senomyx collaborates with seven of the world’s largest food companies to further their research and to fund development of their technology. Ajinomoto Co., Inc., Kraft Foods, Cadbury Adams, PepsiCo, Firmenich SA, Nestlé SA, and Solae all collaborate with Senomyx, but decline to specify where its additives may be found in their many food categories.

In March of 2010, it was asserted by the pro-life group Children of God for Life, which monitors the use of cells from aborted babies, that Senomyx uses aborted fetal cells in its products and testing, making use of Human Embryonic Kidney 293 cells (HEK 293). Senomyx has not confirmed this, but the pro-life group cited the Senomyx paper "Human receptors for sweet and umami taste" in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. [2]

Senomyx lists several large corporate partners or "collaborators" on its website, such as PepsiCo and Nestle. Campbell Soup Company had been a corporate partner since 2001, according to the website. In response to a question from the pro-life group about the alleged use of fetal cells, Campbell stated that it had ended its partnership with Senomyx earlier in March. It was not clear if the Campbell's decision had anything to do with the alleged use of fetal cells.[3]

Human receptors for sweet and umami taste. Xiaodong Li,* Lena Staszewski,* Hong Xu,* Kyle Durick, Mark Zoller,* and Elliot Adler*‡ - *Senomyx, Inc., 11099 North Torrey Pines Road, La Jolla, CA 92037; and Aurora Biosciences Corporation, 11010 Torreyana Road, San Diego, CA 92121 To whom reprint requests should be addressed. E-mail: Communicated by Henry R. Bourne, University of California, San Francisco, CA

2. "Human receptors for sweet and umami taste." PNAS. 2002.

3. Ertelt, Steven.  "Company Uses Fetal Cells From Abortions for Artificial Flavors." 3.29.2011.


Company Uses Cells From Abortions to Test Artificial Flavors

A pro-life group that monitors the use of cells from babies victimized by abortions is today highlighting a biotech company, Senomyx, which it says produces artificial flavor enhancers using aborted fetal cell lines to test their products.

The group Children of God for Life is calling for a public boycott of major food companies partnering with Senomyx.

Debi Vinnedge, the director of the pro-life organization, tells today that, in 2010, her group wrote to Senomyx CEO Kent Snyder and pointed out that moral options for testing their food additives could and should be used. But when Senomyx ignored her letter, the group  wrote to the companies Senomyx listed on their website as “collaborators” warning them of public backlash and threatened boycott. They included food giants PepsiCo, Kraft Foods, Campbell Soup, Solae and Nestlé. (See update below.)

“The company’s key flavor programs focus on the discovery and development of savory, sweet and salt flavor ingredients that are intended to allow for the reduction of MSG, sugar and salt in food and beverage products,” the Senomyx web site says. “Using isolated human taste receptors, we created proprietary taste receptor-based assay systems that provide a biochemical or electronic readout when a flavor ingredient interacts with the receptor.” 

Vinnedge says a boycott is important because the collaborating companies provide Senomyx with research and development funding plus royalties on sales of products using their flavor ingredients.

“What they don’t tell the public is that they are using HEK 293 – human embryonic kidney cells taken from an electively aborted baby to produce those receptors,” she said. “They could have easily chosen animal, insect, or other morally obtained human cells expressing the G protein for taste receptors.”

Vinnedge says she has contacted the food companies working with Senomyx, but said it took three letters before one company, Nestlé, finally admitted its relationship with Senomyx and company officials claimed the line of cells from abortions was “well established in scientific research”.

Both PepsiCo and Campbell Soup also responded.

PepsiCo wrote: “We hope you are reassured to learn that our collaboration with Senomyx is strictly limited to creating lower-calorie, great-tasting beverages for consumers. This will help us achieve our commitment to reduce added sugar per serving by 25% in key brands in key markets over the next decade and ultimately help people live healthier lives.” 

Campbell Soup officials told the pro-life group: “Every effort is made to use the finest ingredients and develop the greatest selection of products, all at a great value. With this in mind, it must be said that the trust we have cultivated and developed over the years with our consumers is not worth compromising to cut costs or increase profit margins.”

While Campbell Soup didn’t state they would change their methods, their response, gave Vinnedge hope.

“If enough people voice their outrage and intent to boycott these consumer products, it may convince Senomyx to change their methods,” she said. “Otherwise, we will be buying Coca-Cola, Lipton soups and Hershey products.” (, 3.29.2011, Steven Ertelt)

UPDATE: Within hours of its press statement to, the pro-life group received notice from Campbell Soup that the company has severed its ties with Senomyx. Juli Mandel Sloves, Senior Manager of Nutrition & Wellness Communications at Campbell Soup Company, told Vinnedge, “We are no longer in partnership with Senomyx. This fact was discussed during the Senomyx conference call with its investors earlier this month.”

ACTION: Contact the companies at:

Kent Snyder, CEO
4767 Nexus Centre Drive
San Diego, California 92121

Edmund M. Carpenter, CEO
Campbell Soup
1 Campbell Place
Camden, NJ 08103-1701

Paul Bulcke, CEO
Nestlé USA
800 North Brand Boulevard
Glendale, CA  91203

Jamie Caulfield, Sr.VP
PepsiCo, Inc.
700 Anderson Hill Road
Purchase, NY 10577

Irene Rosenfeld, CEO
Kraft Foods/Cadbury Chocolate
Three Lakes Drive
Northfield, IL 60093

Mr. Torkel Rhenman Chief Executive Officer
4300 Duncan Avenue
St. Louis, Missouri 63110


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