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No 'dead babies' in my beer? Oh my...
April 14, 2005 9:52 AM   Subscribe

In a surprise move, Anheuser-Busch has gone up against some of the biotech firms that would like to grow genetically-modified (GM) rice containing human DNA. The biotech firm that grows it says that their rice contains synthetic human genes which the company hopes to harvest and refine for use in medicines to fight diarrhea and dehydration.

Anheuser-Busch's concerns are not with the science of biotech, but rather the risk of crop-contamination, as has happened with farmers not only in the U.S. and Canada, but all over the world. The USDA has issued rice-tweakers Ventria Bioscience and 300 other biopharmers permission to plant various augmented plants around the country since 1995, but Anheuser-Busch is the first large corporation to threaten a boycott - unusual, because poultry and beef stock (PDF) are fed this kind of thing every day, and have been for the past 20 years. I guess the Budweiser brewers just don't want to see 'dead people' in their suds...

On the flip-side of this occurrence, the response of the anti-stem cell activists has been nothing short of sensory-deprivation. Shouldn't six-packs, cornfields and Porky be given the same human rights as the unborn?

Also related: Contaminated: The New Science of Food (quicktime movie)
posted by vhsiv (31 comments total)

 
vhsiv, nice post.
posted by jsavimbi at 10:04 AM on April 14, 2005


What is being ignored here is that rice is not an ingredient of beer. I can't believe when you look at the Budweiser can they actually advertise how they use rice.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 10:04 AM on April 14, 2005


It was a nice post up until the gratuitous strawman in the third paragraph.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 10:06 AM on April 14, 2005


mmmm synthetic human genes.

The two major problems I have with GMO food, at this point, is I am not convinced enough is know about the long term effects this may have on people. And crop drift, it is near impossible to keep plants from cross pollinating, and as has been pointed out elsewhere some corporations have tried to sue farmers when unauthorized plants have shown up in their field. Then there is the whole idea of making the plants sterile so farmers are forced to buy all of each years new seed.

I am not 100% against bio engineering, but I believe we are being too sloppy with implementation.
posted by edgeways at 10:08 AM on April 14, 2005


Pardon, I think my post may have mixed a few ideas togeather that are actually seperate ideas on the same topic.
posted by edgeways at 10:10 AM on April 14, 2005


Allow me to be the first to say, "I, for one welcome our new ricey overlords..."

Also, CoolTim is dead right about rice in beer - it's unnatural, I tell you.
posted by BigLankyBastard at 10:10 AM on April 14, 2005


As much as I dislike Budweiser (even though it's my hometown brew), I dislike Monsanto et. al. more. Now if Anheuser-Busch starts funding Organic farmers, and/or anti-GMO activist groups, I would at least extend an olive branch. OTOH, Anheuser-Busch is one of the largest contributors to lobbying against marijuana reform, so i might just keep the olive branch to myself.

TheOnlyCoolTim has a point though...rice in beer = teh suck.
posted by schyler523 at 10:17 AM on April 14, 2005


Anheuser-Busch Cos., the nation's No. 1 buyer of rice as well as its largest brewer, says it won't buy rice from Missouri if genetically-modified medicinal crops are allowed to be grown in the state.
Who is Bud feeding rice to?
My guess, CNN made a type...burrrrrrrrrrb!
posted by thomcatspike at 10:23 AM on April 14, 2005


typo,typo, typo -- call me: cnn.
posted by thomcatspike at 10:24 AM on April 14, 2005


Rice provides Budweiser with its characteristic lightness, crispness and refreshing taste.

Many brewers use only four ingredients in beer – water, barley malt, hops and yeast.

The additional step of brewing Budweiser with rice provides the balance necessary to create its trademark refreshing taste, “drinkability” and crispness. While “extra,” this step is critical to the unique taste of Budweiser.

Anheuser-Busch is the largest purchaser of rice in the United States, accounting for more than 8 percent of all domestic rice consumption. The company owns rice mills in Arkansas and California.
from thier site

For not knowing, do I have to switch my beer to wine?
posted by thomcatspike at 10:28 AM on April 14, 2005


Anheuser-Busch is one of the largest contributors to lobbying against marijuana reform, so i might just keep the olive branch to myself.
Thought that was Coors? I have heard Coors for 15 years now. Anyone want to fill us in with the actual truth since the commenting is becoming slurring drunk.
posted by thomcatspike at 10:31 AM on April 14, 2005


For not knowing, do I have to switch my beer to wine?

Just buy some good beer instead.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 10:34 AM on April 14, 2005


trademark refreshing taste, “drinkability” and crispness.

Oh, you must mean that refreshing, drinkable, crisp watery taste? I prefer not to be able to see through my beer, and/or being able to tell the difference between my beer and urine by sight. Not to mention preferring not to have people in my beer. What next? Soylent Bud? That kid from the 6th Sense saying "Bud Ice, ICY Dead People!"

On Preview: thomcatspike, I'm not privvy to the actual numbers, i assume that Coors is up there as well. Please note that i said "one of the largest."
posted by schyler523 at 10:36 AM on April 14, 2005


Try the real Budweiser. It contains neither rice nor 'dead babies'.
posted by lagavulin at 10:41 AM on April 14, 2005


hey ... i don't want just ANYONE to be my bud
posted by pyramid termite at 10:43 AM on April 14, 2005


The additional step of brewing Budweiser with rice provides the balance necessary to create its trademark refreshing taste, “drinkability” and crispness.

It might be all the above or it might be that rice provides budweiser trademark shittyness, morning after spicy ass and thundering deathwish headaches that even the most debased of KKK produced 99 cent tall cans of malt liquor cannot equal.

This post makes me thirsty for beers. I like bud, btw. In spite of or because of itself. Slushy cold in a bar bottle with a shot of Wild Turkey on the side. Oh lordy.
posted by Divine_Wino at 10:46 AM on April 14, 2005


From the CNN link:

Ventria is seeking USDA approval to grow rice genetically enhanced with synthetic human genes to produce the proteins lactoferrin and lysozyme, which the company hopes to harvest and refine for use in medicines to fight diarrhea and dehydration.

I guess in other words, Budweiser wants to maintain its stature as Americas largest enabler of diarrhea and dehydration.


Also:
"The St. Louis-based beer giant", fucking trite ass Journalists, that article is the platonic ideal of information and analysis free filler, the American press is doomed.

Also:
What, can we speculate, is the actual reason that A-B doesn't want this? My sense is that they can't really care about genetic drift in crops all that much(Pace market above all dudes, it might be pure altruism)? Where is the threat?
posted by Divine_Wino at 11:03 AM on April 14, 2005


Mmmm...

FrankenBeer!

To wash down all my FrankenFood!
posted by nofundy at 11:27 AM on April 14, 2005


There are too many issues mixed up in this post; it's very confused.

Let's just start by making a distinction between this rice, which will be harvested for the enzymes it produces and used to make medicine, with general GMO crops, which are modified by recombinant genetic engineering technology and used as food.

Cross-contamination is certainly a concern in both cases, but Ventria is apparently taking steps (using a closed system) to prevent it. Since Ventria is not marketing their rice as a food crop, there won't be the kind of widespread adoption that we've seen with GMO corn and soybeans. This minimizes the chances of cross-contamination. I'm with Divine_Wino: it's weird that A-B would choose this to get up in arms about.

Also, "dead babies": what the fuck, vhsiv!?

And, rice beer: what the fuck, Anheuser-Busch!?
posted by mr_roboto at 11:40 AM on April 14, 2005


That kid from the 6th Sense saying "Bud Ice, ICY Dead People!"
posted by schyler523

OMFG - ROFLMAO. It's sure not to appear in Budweiser's next ad campaign. Then again, a bottle of Bud might have saved Mischa Barton's Mom a bottle of toilet bowl cleaner...
posted by vhsiv at 11:50 AM on April 14, 2005


Also, "dead babies": what the fuck, vhsiv!?
posted by mr_roboto at 2:40 PM EST on April 14

Frankenfood - it's what's for dinner.

In all seriousness, this is an issue that all of the right-to-lifers ought to be getting behind, moreso than stem-cell research. But that's just MHO.
posted by vhsiv at 11:57 AM on April 14, 2005


In all seriousness, this is an issue that all of the right-to-lifers ought to be getting behind, moreso than stem-cell research.

Do you mean right-to-lifers should be getting behind it moreso than your average concerned citizen? I don't see how that follows from the right-to-life position. Inserting human genes into non-human organisms can be and is done without destroying anything the right-to-lifers consider a human being, so I don't see why they'd have a problem with it. (That is, more of a problem with it by virtue of being pro-life than anyone else would.)
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 12:09 PM on April 14, 2005


In all seriousness, this is an issue that all of the right-to-lifers ought to be getting behind, more so than stem-cell research. But that's just MHO.

All due respect, but that seems like a pretty uninformed opinion, both theologically and scientifically.

Some (most?) strains of Christian theology hold that an embryo is imbued with a soul at the moment of conception: when the sperm enters the egg. From this point forth, the fertilized embryo is, in spiritual terms, a human being. To abort such an embryo once it is implanted--or to destroy it to obtain stem cells--would be to kill a human being. This is why these Christians oppose abortion and stem cell research.

Recombinant human proteins are produced by inserting a human gene into an "expression vector": these vectors can be bacteria, yeast cells, insect cell cultures, or, in the case we're discussing here, plants. The human genes are obtained either completely synthetically or by amplifying genes obtained from tissue samples in a laboratory process. No one is killed in the process. No conception takes place. No embryos are destroyed. There's nothing whatsoever in the process that has any overlap with the Christian theological concerns inherent in embryotic stem cell research. Nothing.

Frankenfood - it's what's for dinner.

Have you even read the article you've linked to? We're not talking about a food crop!
posted by mr_roboto at 12:17 PM on April 14, 2005


Meant to add: The recent Bush Admin. disclosures about the GM corn that shipped to Europe is a cautionary tale in its own right. I don't care about party affiliations here, but THREE MONTHS!! Puh-leeze...

And here's another story about GM rice sold in China.

What the fuck, indeed.

And on preview, DevilsAdvocate, not just left-Dem-Satan Worshippers, but EVERYBODY. Since this is a hot-button issue, the people who lead the charge against stem-cell research should be similarly interested in this variety of genetic manipulation, even if it DOES make a lot of money for Republican campaign contributors.
posted by vhsiv at 12:20 PM on April 14, 2005


repeat, ^above:BEIJING (Reuters) - Wed Apr 13, 5:40 AM ET - Genetically modified rice is being sold in markets in the central Chinese province of Hubei, even though the authorities have not yet approved its sale in China, Greenpeace charged Wednesday. link
posted by vhsiv at 12:32 PM on April 14, 2005


Since this is a hot-button issue, the people who lead the charge against stem-cell research should be similarly interested in this variety of genetic manipulation,

You have failed to understand why those who lead the charge against stem-cell research do so. It is not merely because stem cell research is "genetic manipulation," as mr_roboto explained. You might wish that the reason pro-lifers were opposed to stem cell research was a blanket opposition to all genetic engineering, but that is not the case.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 12:40 PM on April 14, 2005


Some (most?) strains of Christian theology hold that an embryo is imbued with a soul
I'd stay with "some." Most is like saying; the majority in the USA voted for Bush.
posted by thomcatspike at 12:44 PM on April 14, 2005


I find it far more disturbing that they're using rice as an adjunct at all. The Germans really had something with that whole Rheinheitsgebot. Water, Malt, Hops, Yeast... that's all you should really need.
posted by togdon at 1:26 PM on April 14, 2005


This question isn't directly related but at what point would a vegetarian, say a devout Hindu, be unable to eat genetically modified rice that contained animal genes?
posted by euphorb at 4:16 PM on April 14, 2005


GREAT thread and post. Thanks.
posted by tkchrist at 4:27 PM on April 14, 2005


The blastocyst Americans are also opposed to FrankenFoods, just ask their representative Randall Terry.
posted by nofundy at 5:34 AM on April 15, 2005


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