Greenpeace Renews Call for G.E.-Free Budweiser

Greenpeace International Wednesday denied charges by Anheuser-Busch, the brewer of Budweiser beer, that it had made misleading, false and defamatory statements about the beer-maker’s operations. Greenpeace released test results on Monday showing the presence of an untested, experimental strain of genetically engineered (GE) rice in beer brewed for consumption in the United States. 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 Dr. 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 U.S. and abroad about the purity of its product. It's a simple question of the public's right to know."

In the faxed reply to a fax from Anheuser-Busch to Greenpeace sent Monday, 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 it has in place to ensure that its export production is entirely GE-free and that U.S. consumers have the same right to GE-free beer as Europeans.

The problem at the root of the dispute emerged in 2006 when various strains of GE rice contaminated a significant proportion of the U.S. long grain rice crop. While Anheuser-Busch was not responsible for the contamination, independent analyses, 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 that 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 United States. It was approved in the U.S. only after the extent of the contamination became apparent.

"It is not unreasonable to insist that beer drinkers in the U.S. are guaranteed the same degree of assurance against genetically modified products as consumers abroad," continued Dr. Stabinsky.

"Anheuser-Busch's claims that Greenpeace is retaliating against the company for refusing to join an advocacy campaign against GE crops is misleading," added 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 use its considerable influence to support U.S. 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."

VVPR info: steve.smith@wdc.greenpeace.org

Notes: Correspondence between Greenpeace and Anheuser-Busch can be found at: http://usaphoto.greenpeace.org/gebud

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