Anheuser-Busch, the brewer of Budweiser beer, has attempted to defend its use of an untested, experimental strain of genetically engineered (GE) rice to brew beer for consumption in the United States. The company has accused Greenpeace International of making misleading, false and defamatory statements about its operations, allegations which Greenpeace strenuously denies.
Budweiser beer made with genetically engineered rice. True.
Greenpeace is continuing to call for Anheuser-Busch to make a
public commitment to produce all of its beer GE free.
"We are disappointed that Anheuser-Busch didn't simply come
clean and join other major brewing concerns, like Heineken, that
have gone GE free," said Professor Doreen Stabinsky, Greenpeace
International GE campaigner. "Anheuser-Busch's threat of legal
action is no way to address the public concerns raised by
Greenpeace. The solution is for Anheuser-Busch to reassure its
customers in the US and abroad about the purity of its product.
It's a simple question of the right to know."
In the reply, sent to Anheuser-Busch on 10 October, Greenpeace
International's lawyer reiterates a call for the company to issue a
clear public statement giving details of the company's global
policy on genetic engineering and the testing and segregation
systems the firm has in place to ensure that its export production
is entirely GE-free.
The problem at the root of the dispute emerged in 2006 when
various strains of GE rice contaminated a significant proportion of
the US long grain rice crop. While Anheuser-Busch was not
responsible for the contamination, independent analysis, conducted
recently on behalf of Greenpeace, revealed the presence of GE rice
in three of four samples of rice taken from a mill in Arkansas
which is operated by Anheuser-Busch to brew Budweiser.
The GE rice in question, Bayer LL601, is not approved for use in
any country other than the US. It was approved in the US only after
the extent of the contamination became apparent.
"It's surely not unreasonable to insist that beer drinkers in
the US are guaranteed the same degree of assurance against
genetically modified products as consumers abroad," said Professor
Greenpeace also described as misleading media statements by
Anheuser-Busch suggesting that the environmental organisation was
"retaliating" for the company refusing to join an advocacy campaign
against GE crops.
"That's just nonsense," said Prof. Stabinsky. "We told
Anheuser-Busch from day one that the test results would be made
public. However, we suggest that instead of supporting the GE
industry by buying GE-contaminated rice, the company should use its
considerable influence to support US farmers and traders who are
now suing Bayer in an attempt to recover the hundreds of millions
of dollars they have lost as a result of the contamination."
Notes to editors:
The letter from Anheuser-Busch to Greenpeace
Greenpeace's response to Anheuser-Busch
3) Greenpeace spoof
the world's fourth largest brewer, prohibits the use of
genetically-modified raw materials.
5) Information on the
class action concerning GE rice contamination
Other contacts: Professor Doreen Stabinsky, Greenpeace International GE campaigner.Tel: +1 202 276 5284 or +1 202 285 7398 (mobile)Omer Elnaiem, communications officer, Greenpeace International. Tel: +31 6 1509 3589 (mobile)