Greenpeace Exposes Anheuser Busch’s Use of Genetically Engineered Rice in Beer Brewing Process

July 6, 2010

Greenpeace released the results of analyses showing the presence of an experimental genetically engineered (GE) strain of rice at an Anheuser-Busch operated mill in Arkansas that is used to brew Budweiser. An independent laboratory test, commissioned by Greenpeace, detected the presence of GE rice (Bayer LL601) in three out of four samples taken at the mill.

Bayer LL601 rice was the source of the 2006 contamination of at least 30 percent of rice stocks in the United States. The GE contamination had a massive negative economic impact on the U.S. rice industry as many countries subsequently stopped or significantly restricted the import of U.S. rice.  

"Anheuser-Busch must make a clear statement about the level of GE contamination of the rice used to brew Budweiser in the U.S. and spell out what measures are in place to ensure this beer does not reach the company's export markets," said Doreen Stabinsky, Greenpeace agriculture campaigner.

"U.S. beer drinkers need Anheuser-Busch to explain why it is not preventing use of this genetically engineered rice in the U.S. If, as the company has informed Greenpeace, all of the Budweiser exported from the U.S. or manufactured outside of the U.S. does not contain genetically engineered rice, then Anheuser-Busch needs to state this publicly, and explain the double standard," added 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 for use in the U.S. and is not used in brewing Budweiser destined for export. The full extent of the contamination remains unclear.

The rice strain in question, Bayer LL601 rice, was retroactively granted approval by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) in an effort to reduce public concern and company liability, despite 15,000 public objections. The European Food Safety Authority, however, stated that there was insufficient data to make a finding of safety.  Greenpeace believes that U.S. consumers have a right to know if GE-contaminated rice is used to make Budweiser. Last Friday, the USDA released inconclusive results of a 14-month, 8,500 staff hour study into the contamination incident, providing little insight into how the contamination occurred, and showing no evidence that regulators or industry have any idea how to prevent future contamination scandals.

Anheuser-Busch is the largest single rice buyer in the US, buying six to ten percent of the annual U.S. rice crop, and is one of only a few beer producers that use rice as an ingredient. The brand is found in approximately 60 countries through a mix of exports and local brewing arrangements.

 "Anheuser-Busch should make a global commitment to produce all of its beer without GE ingredients. Anything less will leave a bad taste in the mouth of Budweiser drinkers," concluded Stabinsky.

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