News 2015/7/16

We Only Drink GMO-Free Beer!

Members of the Seikatsu Club asked beer and beverage company call centers if their products were made using GM (genetically modified) ingredients.
They found that regular beer does not contain GM ingredients while many brands of low-malt beer and soft drinks are made using GMOs.


In March 2015, members of the Seikatsu Club made telephone calls to beer and beverage company call centers to ask if their products contained ingredients derived from GM corn. They found that all the brands of regular beer from each company are still GMO free, while many brands of low-malt beer and soft drinks contain GMO ingredients. (Posted on July 16)

A Total of 285 Telephone Calls for 64 Items

The Seikatsu Club holds to the basic principle of avoiding any GM crops and GM food. We also feed our animals (pigs, cows and chickens) with GMO-free corn and other animal feed.

In the United States, however, GM corn has spread around the country, and 93% of the corn grown in 2014 was GM. Under these serious circumstances, beer companies have been an important market for GM-free corn, and have supported its production. Japanese beer companies often add corn starch produced from non-GM corn to their products as an auxiliary material.

In 2014, civil society organizations sent open letters to four major beer companies to ask them if they had any plan to start using GM corn. They did not give clear answers to the question, saying “As yet undecided,” or “Under consideration.”

Related links (links to other websites): Answers from Beer Companies to Civil Society Organizations
‘Four Major Beer Companies Answered Our Questions,’ Tane to Shoku to Hito@Forum, December 6, 2014
‘Replies from Beer Companies on Their Use of Corn Starch,’ No! GMO Campaign, August 19, 2014

After becoming concerned about the responses from the beer companies, a total of 285 members of the Seikatsu Club around the country made telephone calls to beer and soft drink company call centers.

They asked questions about the use of ingredients derived from GM corn for a total of 64 regular beer, low-malt beer, and soft drinks items. In addition to asking questions, they also requested that the beer companies keep themselves GMO free.

Regular Beer Does not Contain GM Corn

Our members found that none of the brands of regular beer contains ingredients made from GM corn. On the other hand, many brands of low-malt beer and the so-called “new genre” or “third beer” beverages were found to contain sugar from unsegregated corn that may contain GMOs. One company did not give answers on specific items, but answered in a general way, saying that they do not use GMOs for “main ingredients” or “ingredients for which GMO labeling is mandatory.” In those cases, we were not sure if they were produced from GMOs or not.

In addition, many brands of soft drinks from different beverage companies were found to contain GM ingredients.

The Seikatsu Club will continue to support companies and brands which do not use ingredients that derive from GMOs. In addition, we will continue to encourage companies to avoid GM ingredients.

Summary of Survey of Companies on the Use of Ingredients Derived from GMOs

Dates: February to March 2015
Targets: Four major beer companies and other beverage companies
Methods: Telephone calls to call centers
Participants: A total of 285 members of the Seikatsu Club in different prefectures
Total number of telephone calls: 285

Voices of the Participants

  • ● I was relieved to learn that all the brands of regular beer use identity-preserved ingredients.
  • ● I was shocked to know that soft drinks that children usually drink may contain GMOs. I asked companies to produce products that are safe for children to drink.
  • ●One company did not give answers on specific products, but answered about their regular beer, low-malt beer and the new genre in general. The answers were not clear and I am concerned about the days ahead.