Greenpeace today released the results of analysis showing the presence of an untested experimental genetically-engineered strain of rice at a mill in Arkansas, in the United States, which is operated by Anheuser- Busch to brew its beer brand, Budweiser. An independent laboratory, commissioned by Greenpeace, detected the presence of GE rice (Bayer LL601) in three out of four samples taken at the mill. (1).
The experimental GE rice is one of three rice varieties that were first found in 2006 to have contaminated rice stocks in the US. Since then, GE contamination has been found in approximately 30 per cent of US rice stocks. This has had a massive negative impact on the US rice industry as foreign markets, where GE rice has not been approved, have been closed to US rice.
"Anheuser-Busch must make a clear statement about the level of GE contamination of the rice used to brew Budweiser in the US and spell out what measures are in place to ensure this beer does not reach the company's export markets," said Doreen Stabinsky, Greenpeace International GE Campaigner.
"US beer drinkers need Anheuser-Busch to explain why it is not preventing use of this genetically-engineered rice in the US. If, as the company has informed Greenpeace, all of the Budweiser exported from the US or manufactured outside of the US is guaranteed GE free then Anheuser-Busch needs to state this publicly, and explain the double standard," said Stabinsky.
Greenpeace informed Anheuser-Busch of the test results prior to their release and sought clear information from the company on the extent of contamination and its global policy on the use of GE ingredients. Anheuser-Busch responded that the rice is approved in the US and is not used in brewing Budweiser destined for export. The full extent of the contamination remains unclear, however.
LL601 GE rice was retroactively granted approval by the US Dept of Agriculture in an effort to reduce public concern and company liability despite 15,000 public objections. The European Food Safety Authority stated that there was insufficient data to make a finding of safety. Greenpeace says that US consumers have a right to know if this GE rice is used to make Budweiser. This GE rice is not approved outside the US so the Budweiser brewed with it could not be sold abroad.
Anheuser-Busch is the largest single rice buyer in the US, buying 6-10 per cent of the annual US rice crop. Budweiser is one of only a few beers having rice as an ingredient. The brand is found in around 60 countries through a mix of exports and local brewing arrangements.
"We are asking Anheuser-Busch to make a global commitment to produce all of its beer GE free. Anything less will leave a bad taste in the mouth of Budweiser drinkers." said Doreen Stabinsky of Greenpeace.
Doreen Stabinsky, Greenpeace International GE Campaigner in Washington DC, + 1 2022857398
Lindsay Keenan, Greenpeace International GE Campaigner, + 44 7726 103 406
Omer Elnaiem, Greenpeace International Communications in Amsterdam, + 31 615093589
1) Test results are available on request.