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A View from Erika Jonietz

Biotech Beer?

In an effort to tempt Europeans fearful of genetically modified foods, a consortium of biotech companies led by Monsanto has helped to fund production of a lager made with the standard hops and barley–and a touch of genetically engineered corn.Swedish…

  • July 9, 2004

In an effort to tempt Europeans fearful of genetically modified foods, a consortium of biotech companies led by Monsanto has helped to fund production of a lager made with the standard hops and barley–and a touch of genetically engineered corn.

Swedish brew master Kenth Persson produces the beer, first made available earlier this year in Denmark and Sweden, according to the Associated Press. Although it hardly seems popular so far (and protesters have chased delivery trucks and pressured stores not to sell it), Persson says it is on sale through the Swedish state-owned liquor monopoly, Systembolaget. In addition, 4,000 bottles are on their way to stores and pubs in Germany, and he’s negotiating with stores in the United Kingdom.

In April the European Union lifted a six-year moratorium on new biotech food. (The corn Persson uses was approved for use in 1998, before the moratorium started, and is grown in Germany.) Europeans still are overwhelmingly opposed to foods containing GM crops. Monsanto, Bayer CropScience, DuPont, Plant Science Sweden, Svaloef Weibull, and Syngenta helped to fund the beer as a way to make “an abstract discussion more concrete,” the story quotes a Monsanto spokesperson as saying.

Or, to appeal to Europeans in a way that just may pique their curiosity. Whichever.

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