Beer (& More) In Food

Beer: The Condiment With An Attitude!

A-B Deflects Greenpeace Charges And YouTube Video Of Using Genetically Engineered Rice

Posted by Bob Skilnik on October 9, 2007

A few years ago, I was invited out to Anheuser-Busch headquarters in St. Louis to have my brain picked for information about the connection to beer and carbohydrates, a result of a few TV appearances on Fox and ESPN2 I had done while promoting my book, The Drink Beer, Get Thin Diet: A Low- Carbohydrate Approach. After dispensing with business and meeting most of the brewery’s higher-ups, I received a private tour of the brewery and eventually, the opportunity to sit down with the department heads as they tasted 12 samples of beer that had been brought in from all of A-B’s breweries. There was also a 13th sample, this one using rice from a possible new purveyor and the panel, including myself, tasting sample #13 to ensure that it had no noticeable change in the taste and character of the control sample of Budweiser.

All in all, it was extremely interesting, but I always wondered why the possible change in rice suppliers? Probably, I figured, A-B was just playing it safe, just in case their main supplier came up short or had a problem with a harvest. Looks like A-B does this on a regular basis (reaching out to new or back-up suppliers, that is).

Greenpeace, however, is now claiming that Anheuser-Busch is using an experimental, genetically engineered rice strain, according to an analysis released yesterday by the environmental organization. Three of four samples of unprocessed rice from the beer maker’s mill in Arkansas showed the presence of the strain, Bayer LL601. Doug Muhleman, Anheuser-Busch’s vice president of brewing says the rice strain “is fully approved” by federal regulators, who deemed it “perfectly safe for human consumption.” Muhleman adds that Greenpeace’s “false and defamatory” allegations came as retaliation for the company’s spurning Greenpeace’s call to boycott US farmers.

Greenpeace’s Doreen Stabinsky, however, said US consumers have a right to know that genetically modified rice is used to create their beer. To that end, the group has cobbled together an off-color [read: lame] YouTube video, “Wassup With Your Beer?” The one-minute, 16-second video closes with a display advertisement reminiscent of a Budweiser commercial, except that it replaces the beer’s foam with a mound of rice, and notes in capital letters that the beer is made with genetically engineered rice.

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