Budweiser rice contamination exposed

Feature story - October 8, 2007
The corporate braumeisters of Anheuser-Busch have let genetically engineered rice contaminate their Budweiser beer, independent laboratory testing has revealed. Tests show rice used in Anheuser-Busch's east coast US breweries is contaminated with genetically engineered rice varieties outlawed in most of the world.

Budweiser beer made with genetically engineered rice. True.

Budweiser is an international brand exported to 60 countries worldwide.  Anheuser-Busch controls 50 percent of the US beer market and is the largest single purchaser of rice in America. They buy between a staggering six and ten percent of the entire annual US rice harvest.

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The contamination

In 2006, over 30 percent of the US long grain rice crop was contaminated by multiple strains of genetically engineered (GE) rice. It is still not clear how this happened.  We do know that these GE rice strains, called "Liberty Link", came from Germany's Bayer CropScience.

The plot thickened when it was revealed the GE rice that eventually ended up in Anheuser-Busch's brewing mix was supposed to be confined to test sites only. This GE rice was never cultivated or marketed for sale. The US Department of Agriculture retroactively approved the use of the Liberty Link rice strains, but their sale is still outlawed in most of the world.

The contamination wreaked havoc with US rice farmers and processors. It is estimated in a class action lawsuit filed against Bayer that 63 percent of the US rice industry's export trade was disrupted. Orders and contracts were cancelled, products were removed from shelves, shipments were halted and recalls ordered. Testing and certification requirements were imposed. There was extensive brand damage and a large loss of market share for US producers.

Anheuser-Busch's responsibility

Although Anheuser-Busch did not cause the genetic contamination of the rice, the company has a responsibility to their customers. It should have refused to purchase or use any rice contaminated by the GE strains. Tests conducted for Greenpeace show Anheuser-Busch let the ball drop.

Anheuser-Busch has made a commitment to use only GE free ingredients at its brewery in Wuhan, China, but has to date refused to make the same commitment to American and European consumers. Whassup with that?!

Greenpeace is calling on the makers of Budweiser, Anheuser-Busch:

A)

To make a global commitment - for itself, its partners and subsidiaries - that it will be GE free in all its beer ingredients.

And

B)

To actively oppose the growing of GE rice including current fields in Arkansas being cultivated by Bayer CropScience.

Send a letter

Ask wassup?! Sign the open letter to Budweiser.

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