Nah, it’s not. Or maybe it is. You decide.
Recently I posted Soylent Green is … Granite, wherein I revealed the startling discovery of a strangely named granite sample. This post resulted in a private message from someone alerting me to the rumor around Soylent Green in Pepsi and other frequently consumed foods.
Context: Soylent Green is a 1973 movie starring Charleton Heston. In it, the Soylent Corporation releases a new food (Soylent Green) to a starving, overpopulated future Earth. Soylent green is made of dead people.
The rumor: The secret ingredient in Pepsi is cells from aborted fetuses.
Is it true? Essentially, no. But wait, there’s more.
The source of the rumor (according to snopes.com): Oklahoma state senator Ralph Shortey introduced a bill in January of 2012 to ban “the manufacture or sale of food or products which use aborted human fetuses”. This raised some eyebrows.
The confusion enters here: U.S. based Senomyx is a biotechnology company that develops new ingredients with the intention of enhancing flavor and smell of foods. Senomyx does list HEK 293 (Human Embroyonic Kidney cells) in many of its patents, but HEK 293 is widely used in pharmaceutical research. Additionally, HEK 293 isn’t a newly harvested cell; it’s derived from a single fetal kidney cell collected in 1970.
The technical data on HEK 293 reads: “Transformed with sheared human Ad5 DNA. Sensitive to human adenoviruses and adenovirus DNA. Can be used to isolate transformation defective host-range mutants of Ad5 and for titrating human adenoviruses. This is a hypotriploid human cell line. The modal chromosome number was 64 …” Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz
And it’s not just Pepsi that’s under the gun in this Soylent Green controversy. Kraft and Nestle have also been linked to Senomyx.
Can these food products be legitimately painted with the Soylent Green brush? I guess it depends on your interpretation. Po-tay-toe, po-tah-toe, say HEK 293 detractors.