Greenpeace Scaremongers Again—Goes After Beer

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I know, I know, the headline has all the drama of "Dog Bites Man." Greenpeace activists make their livings by scaring the public and so it is never really news when Greenpeacers launch another bogus alarm. This time they are going after beer drinkers. As the Boston Globe reports:

Rice used by Anheuser-Busch Cos. to brew Budweiser beer is tainted with an experimental, genetically engineered rice strain, according to an analysis released yesterday by the environmental organization Greenpeace. Three of four samples of unprocessed rice from the beer maker's mill in Arkansas showed the presence of the strain, Bayer LL601, Greenpeace said.

Fortunately, the folks at Budweiser know exactly why they've been targeted–they wouldn't go along with a Greenpeace shakedown. Doug Muhleman, Anheuser-Busch's vice president of brewing explained it to the Globe:

"Greenpeace recently asked us to join their advocacy campaign on genetically modified crops. We refused their calls to boycott US farmers, and they are now retaliating."

This scare is just another sorry Greenpeace re-run. As I reported earlier:

The G.M. rice, known as LL601, resists an herbicide manufactured by the chemical and pharmaceutical company Bayer. Rejected as commercially unviable years ago, the strain was found in long-grain rice stores at a rate of six per 10,000 grains of conventional rice.

How dangerous is the gene? Not very. It's also found in varieties of corn, soybeans, and canola approved by the USDA and the Food and Drug Administration—food that millions of people have been eating safely for years. And in November, the USDA finally approved the rice itself as safe to eat.

The rice flap isn't deadly, but it does demonstrate a need for reform in the inefficient way genetically enhanced crop varieties are approved. Drew Kershen, a professor of law at the University of Oklahoma, argues that once a trait has been approved, it should be approved for all varieties and all crops. Until the rules are changed, harmless food will be fodder for bogus scares…

So Budweiser is "tainted" with rice that regulators have already ruled is safe to eat. Some story!

Whole Boston Globe story here.

NEXT: Chimps=Economists?

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  1. Rice used by Anheuser-Busch Cos. to brew Budweiser beer is tainted with an experimental, genetically engineered rice strain.

    there ya go.

    *shudders*
    (and yes, make fun of the “belgium” twadelenocks, too)

  2. Spaten uber alles!

    I’m always amazed when Greenpeace or PETA or the other cultists go after certain things, like fucking beer. You can tell they’re thinking “we’ll fuck Anheuser-Busch”, but they’re so fanatic they don’t realize that they are fucking with people’s booze, “the cause of, and solution to, all of life’s problems.”

  3. Fortunately, the folks at Budweiser know exactly why they’ve been targeted–they wouldn’t go along with a Greenpeace shakedown. Doug Muhleman, Anheuser-Busch’s vice president of brewing explained it to the Globe:

    “Greenpeace recently asked us to join their advocacy campaign on genetically modified crops. We refused their calls to boycott US farmers, and they are now retaliating.”

    Well, that must be it. Mr. Bailey knows that corporate PR is the only place to get the truth on such matters!

    So Budweiser is “tainted” with rice that regulators have already ruled is safe to eat. Some story!

    Hey, suddenly a government bureaucracy is to be trusted without question. Never thought I’d see that in Reason!

  4. Ron,

    Greenpeace Greenpiece Scaremongers Again — Goes After Beer

    There, fixed that one for you. Please correct the rest 🙂

  5. So Budweiser is “tainted” with rice that regulators have already ruled is safe to eat. Some story!

    Dan T: I put that in just to reassure the likes of you.

    And you can choose to believe Greenpeace if you want, but you can’t claim their motives are any purer than you think Anheuser-Busch’s are.

  6. Wait…

    You’re saying that Budweiser is actually beer?

  7. mediageek: Not according to the German Beer Purity law:

    …the only ingredients used for the brewing of beer must be Barley, Hops and Water. Whosoever knowingly disregards or transgresses upon this ordinance, shall be punished by the Court authorities’ confiscating such barrels of beer, without fail.

    😉

  8. I’m not an expert or anything, but what the fuck is rice doing in the beer brewing process. Wheat, barley, sure…but rice? Seriously, rice? And you can sell that shit as “beer”? There’s the real scandal.

  9. Ron Bailey: So the people that brought us wheat-based ales can’t legally sell those wheat-based ales as “beer”? Is this like that damnable regulation that Barleywine in the US can’t be sold as “Barleywine” but must be sold as “Barleywine-style Ale”?

  10. And you can choose to believe Greenpeace if you want, but you can’t claim their motives are any purer than you think Anheuser-Busch’s are.

    Well, we know that Anheuser-Busch’s motive is profit, which means that if they believe telling you that 2+2=5 is going to increase business then that’s what they’re going to tell you.

    Greenpeace’s motives are a little less clear, but they seem to be at least to some degree concerned with bringing attention to environmental issues.

  11. C’mon, folks. Bud isn’t great stuff, but I’ve had far worse. In many bowling alleys it’s the best your gonna get. It’s brew for the masses. Twinkies aren’t the best baked goods either. Still, they sell a lot of the HFCS infused, palate offenders, don’t they? You’ve eaten them, too. You’re among friends here, you can admit it!

  12. J sub D,

    If you use that HF* thingie 3 times in the same thread Radley will appear.

  13. Barley, Hops and Water.

    4 ingredients, actually. You forgot the yeast.

  14. I find it ironic that Greenpeace doesn’t realize that they have zero (negative?) credibility with AB’s core customer base: Joe Sixpack.

  15. I suggest alternat title: “Greenpiece Failed Attack on Orphan Dale Earnhardt Junior”

  16. alternative title even

  17. And here I was thinking Greenpeace was only interested in animals, like their program to “Shave the Whales”. Why whales need to be shaved is way beyond me.

  18. ed

    Yeast was not included in the original Purity Law as yeast was not a known in gredient. According to Ron’s link brewers in the day relied on airborne yeast to propmote fermentation.

    Yeah, I didn’t know that either.

    Timothy,

    I believe heffenwiessen are not included under the purity laws. That’s possibly why you don’t see them labeled as bier. Perhaps there is another German bureaucracy in charge of their purity.

    But you’re quite correct, rice in beer is an abomination.

  19. IB,

    Stop attacking the orphans!

  20. Anything ‘Approved by the FDA’ doesn’t really carry much weight anymore in terms of safety. They have gotten fairly corrupt. Makie your own beer.

  21. Reassuring quote from the end of the article:

    “Mostly people that don’t drink Budweiser, yet are against g-e foods,” Alstr?m said in an e-mail. “As for your typical Bud drinker, I doubt they would care or even know what g-e food actually is.”

  22. As if anybody needs another reason not to drink Budweiser.

    If you’ve got a bunch of Bud in the fridge, you’re obviously not somebody who cares very much about what you’re drinking.

    And if you’re the sort of person who would care about whether the rice (yuck!) used to brew your beer is genetically modified, you probably don’t drink Bud in the first place.

  23. My understanding is that the biggest problem with the American swill beers is not the use of rice, but the use of substandard hops (which cost much less).

  24. I see a lot of beer snobbery in this thread. I demand that all you beer snobs buy me tons of top-quality beer to show me how superior it is.

    It’s the only way to be sure.

  25. Rice, beer, sake. Questions?

  26. I know I’m just pickin’ nits here, and I sure as hell don’t want to align myself with the anti-genetic manapipulation crowd, I’m totally trans-humanist, I’m lookin’ for a bigger hard drive personally, BUT….

    I sure am uncomfortable with the anti-market attitude that says I don’t have the right to avoid it. It lends credence to the folks for instance who go on and on about steroids, something else I’m not “automatically” against in pro sports.

    Remember coercion. Or do you all just love the tax system all to pieces.

    But the same style coercion from the folks with their hands out, in the form of the gov, is certainly evidenced in this type of story of genetic manipulation. I mean, unapproved seeds contaminate farms that didn’t want it? Even if it was safe, seems heavily into an abuse of property rights. And this gov action seems not to be based on direct science but with analogy science. No doubt it is safe, but still…

    Funny enough, although I do not believe at this time that I would avoid any modified crops in general… (I do avoid milk from hormone modified and low anti-biotic dose cattle, but that’s a preference based on my own research, and the fact that I drink a great deal of it, and my body has given me certain indications that it prefers one over the other)…it goes against my market ideas that there is less and less choice.

    And, although I do not think there have been any problems, a few courses in genetics and one on the history of sloppy lab mistakes, and anyone could imagine a dangerous set of mods getting out.

    I don’t know, another case where I agree in principle that GP is full of it, but there is this nagging thing about having consistent market values.

    Nagging at me. It looks a little Adam Smith with raised eyebrows, and of course zombified, he’s been dead for years after all.

  27. A friendly barowner once told me that the secret to good beer is good water.

    Apparently all the great beers of the world use spring or artesian water that has passed through a limestone formation of some kind.

    Mind you, that had come from the rep for Bass Ale whose brewery gets its water from streams that have flowed through limestone caverns.

    Since I’m avoiding sodium to prevent high blood pressure, I’ll take it all with a pint of Bass, I think.

  28. Episiarch

    It is not beer snobbery to denounce rice as a brewing ingredient. It’s common sense.

    🙂

    Actually I appreciate an American style pilsener as much as anyone. The mild flavor can be quite appealing on occasion. I just find Bud has too sweet a flavor and I atribute that to the rice.

  29. “mediageek: Not according to the German Beer Purity law:

    …the only ingredients used for the brewing of beer must be Barley, Hops and Water. Whosoever knowingly disregards or transgresses upon this ordinance, shall be punished by the Court authorities’ confiscating such barrels of beer, without fail.”

    Turns out that whole purity law was put into effect in order to keep those dirty pagans from drinking beer with naughty psychoactive ingredients. The church didn’t dig the freaky sex parties the pagans got into when they go high. Personally, I prefer the freaky sex party beer to the beer gut and sausage variety.

  30. I would like to have a beer with Condi…

  31. Timothy – Re: rice in beer. There are a couple of reasons to add rice to the grain bill in brewing. One is you can get fermentable sugars much more cheaply with than with barley – especially now with the ethanol subsidies prompting farmers to switch farmland to corn and away from barley and wheat. A second reason is that you get ferementable sugars without adding lots of color. It’s much easier to get a very light, crisp, clear color to your beer using a bit of rice in your gain bill. And that’s something that sells pretty well.
    -K

  32. Actually I appreciate an American style pilsener as much as anyone. The mild flavor can be quite appealing on occasion. I just find Bud has too sweet a flavor and I atribute that to the rice.

    You’d be about right. The rice serves to lighten the flavor (and color) of the beer while still providing a fermentable sugar with which to build the alcohol. The overall “sweetness” is due to a)unfermented sugars and b)a lack of bitterness imparted by hops.

    In short, rice has no flavor and neither does any beer that uses it.

  33. How could you tell? A-B’s beers are all so vile anyway.

  34. Rice is used as a brewing adjunct because it doesn’t impart much, if any, flavor to the beer. It actually makes sense if you’re brewing a pale, pilsener-style beer. Not much of a Bud fan myself, but a cold one will taste okay on a hot summer day. Miller (which I don’t drink either) uses corn as an adjunct, which results in a darker brew with a sweeter taste that apparently some people like (shudders). Personally, I prefer a well-hopped IPA.

  35. WTF is this all about? I drink beer to forget my divorce, my shitty job, and all the bitches who ever screwed me over. Drink enough of any of that shit fast enough and it all starts to taste like Manna From Heaven mixed with Nectar of the Gods filtered through Catherine Zeta-Jones lower lips.

  36. but rice? Seriously, rice? And you can sell that shit as “beer”? There’s the real scandal.

    You think Greenpeace didn’t know that?

    Their tactics were subtle in this case.

  37. My understanding is that the biggest problem with the American swill beers is not the use of rice, but the use of substandard hops (which cost much less).

    Our brains and taste buds are designed to hate bitter flavored things….hops are bitter, substandard hops are less bitter….Budwiser profits.

    Which sort of answers a question I have had…why do all micro brews taste like how I imagine an asshole would? Above standard hops. Still i wonder who all the morons are who buy this crap.

  38. …especially now with the ethanol subsidies prompting farmers to switch farmland to corn and away from barley and wheat.

    Damn ethanol boosters. If they keep getting their way we’ll have shortages of tequila and beer.

  39. Greenpeace’s motives are a little less clear, but they seem to be at least to some degree concerned with bringing attention to environmental issues.

    Great, so what does the GM rice in Budweiser have to do with any of that? And what are the proven health concerns with the GM rice? Greenpeace is warning us about…something. What? What are they warning us about? What is one afflicted with when consuming this GM rice?

  40. And uhh, Tom (5:58 post) is not me with an alternate handle. So before you all accuse him of being me (or me of being him), it’s not. No matter the similarities.

  41. “regulators have already ruled is safe to eat”

    How can you seriously argue that. Vioxx anyone? I’m not saying it IS harmful or that Greenpeace is right, but I don’t trust govt. regulators to approve shite!

  42. Karl, Kwix and Sot

    Good info. Thanks. I did not know that about rice.

    I know that a lot of US and Latin American brewers use corn in the grain mix and I would’ve expected that to also produce a sweet beer. hence I try to stay away from it as well.

    Frankly when it comes to Bud (or Michelob for that matter) and just about any other mass market “premium” US beer I find that the imports that i like are regularly on special at competitive prices.

    Now go down market to, say, PBR or Busch and you pay less for, to my taste, a better beer than Bud.

  43. Greenpeace’s motives are a little less clear,…

    No, actually, Greenpeace’s motives are perfectly clear. They are a multinational fundraising organization. Their goal is maximizing income like any corporate enterprize.

  44. They approved the genetically engineered rice pretty quickly in the US – they didn’t even bother testing it-just said it was similar to one they’d approved before. Which they didn’t test either.

    Greenpeace did a pretty amusing job of testing the rice though – check out this Bud spoof!
    http://youtube.com/watch?v=XPZlYmCqALY
    jeremy

  45. When it comes to decent beer that’s easy on the wallet, you can’t beat Weinhard’s. I remember buying six packs of Henry’s in Oregon for like 4.99 (granted, that was several years ago).

  46. i’ve just been informed that my dog is nothing but a genetically engineered wolf. and the broccoli i ate last night? you don’t even wanna know how evil THAT stuff is. is there no end to this GM madness??? please, greenpeace, take me away to magic land, where everything is as pure as al gore’s hair weave.

  47. Weren’t we genetically modified by the Monolith?

  48. joshua corning –

    Being a connoisseur of both fine beer and fine asshole, I can assure you that neither tastes like the other.

  49. joshua corning –
    On a more serious note; Lots of the craft brewers these days are pushing the hops pretty severely. But there are lots of good brews out there that aren’t really over hopped at all. There are even some IPAs.

    If you can get Dog Fish Head 90 or 120 minute IPA, they are hopped with ‘above standard’ hops (quality and quantity), but still have a nice strong malt backbone making them pretty sweet – more after dinner sipping beers, especially the 120 minute as it comes in around 20% ABV.

    Many stouts and porters will also not be overly bitter. Left Hand Milk Stout is a wonderful example of a sweet stout.

    Lots of the summer ales will probably fit the bill as well. I’m especially fond of the Avery’s “Collaboration Not Litigation”, Andersen Valley’s “Summer Solstice” is another great flavorful beer. Marzen’s, Dobblebocks, Dunkels will also not have that over the top hoppines but will be dominated by the malt flavors. Most of the Belgian Trappist ales are also not overly hopped but are great complex beers. Anything from Rochefort, Westvleteren, Westmalle, or from the States, anything from Lost Abbey would be great examples.

    Of course if you like the mass market beers or no beer at all, don’t sweat it – your saving yourself some money!

    -K “One of those Morons”

  50. Well, we know that Anheuser-Busch’s motive is profit, which means that if they believe telling you that 2+2=5 is going to increase business then that’s what they’re going to tell you.

    Oh, of course. Since profit seeking is tantamount to being suspicious, then… there ya go. Pure Ad hominem, by Dan T.


    Greenpeace’s motives are a little less clear, but they seem to be at least to some degree concerned with bringing attention to environmental issues.

    And since *we all know* attention gathering is NOT in itself Profit (psychological profit), then they must be angels… right? RIGHT???

    Yeah, right…

  51. And you can sell that shit as “beer”?

    The Chinese have been using rice to make beer for — oh, several thousand years anyway.

    Not that it has an flavor.

  52. The h*** with beer! I want my cider! (I don’t mind if it has GM ingredients)

  53. Of course, the proper Libertarian answer is: If you like rice, buy bud, if you don’t like it don’t buy it.

    Seems that the market is agianst the elitists posting here.

    Now, when are y’all going to get smart and label this Greenpiece attack on Budweiser as an attack on an orphan?

  54. The h*** with beer! I want my cider! (I don’t mind if it has GM ingredients)

    I am not ingredients! I am a human being!

  55. Soylent beer is Guy Montag?

    Eeeew…

  56. Turns out that whole purity law was put into effect in order to keep those dirty pagans from drinking beer with naughty psychoactive ingredients. The church didn’t dig the freaky sex parties the pagans got into when they go high. Personally, I prefer the freaky sex party beer to the beer gut and sausage variety.

    Interesting theory. The problem is that the Reinheitsgebot was passed in 1516, which was six or seven centuries after the last Bavarian pagan walked the Earth.

  57. Interesting theory. The problem is that the Reinheitsgebot was passed in 1516, which was six or seven centuries after the last Bavarian pagan walked the Earth.

    You mean those oddly dressed and odored students at the Humanaties Department are not Bavarian pagans?

  58. You mean those oddly dressed and odored students at the Humanaties Department are not Bavarian pagans?

    Maybe, maybe not. But I’ll bet their beer isn’t very pure.

  59. Karl, you beat me to it…assmunch!

    Unfiltered beer is the best. Healthy too.

    For homebrewers: I once brewed some ale that was so bitter, everyone I knew (including people who like real beer) couldn’t drink it. I was going to dump it out, but never got around to emptying the keg. 6 months later it was some of the best bitter beer I have ever had. So if ya overhop, don’t throw it away – let it age a little.

    Unsolicited advice for those thinking of brewing: When you start off buying equipment, skip the bottle capper, caps, and bottle brush/rinser. Just go straight to soda kegs. Kegging will cost more (initially) but you can apply the $40 you will save on all that bottling junk to doing it the way you want to do it anyway. Its a LOT easier to clean and sanitize one 5 gallon keg than it is to de-label, clean, sanitize, fill, and cap 53 bottles for a 5 gallon batch. Its also a lot easier on your kitchen. If you want to give some away, buy a few swing top beers, like Grolsch and reuse the bottles.

    Tip #2: If you want to stay married, put towels all over the kitchen floor before you start brewing.

    Tip #3: Turn heat on your burner completely off as you add ingredients to your boil (especially for extracts/syrups. Then turn the heat back on. This is very important if you are married to someone less interested in the hobby than you are, who also likes the stove to be free of burnt crap all over.

    Reason needs a beer brewing forum….

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