Greenpeace renews call on Anheuser-Busch to come clean over GE policy

Press release - October 11, 2007
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 Stabinsky.

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."

End

Notes to editors:

1)     The letter from Anheuser-Busch to Greenpeace

2)    Greenpeace's response to Anheuser-Busch

3)    Greenpeace spoof video

4)     Heineken, 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)