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.