Does the presence of adjunct ingredients like rice or corn imply that these ingredients are always of the genetically modified variety?

I mean, if you are going to add adjuncts to a beer, the main reason is usually to reduce production costs right? In that case, GMO rice and corn adjuncts are the cheapest, so it seems to me like any beers using adjuncts will be using GMO adjuncts.

3 Answers 3


The chances of corn being grown for industrial purposes, like making dextrose have a very high probability of being GMO. If you are buying specialty grains (like for steeping), the probability of those ingredients being genetically modified are much lower.

That said, finding out whether or not your adjunct is made from GMO corn (or rice) is very difficult. You may be able to find companies that market things as GMO-free, in that case, they are probably GMO free. Otherwise, they may or may not contain GMOs.

If you are concerned about the safety of genetic modification, you should know that GMOs are very safe and are tested for safety much more than the wild crops their genes are borrowed from.


No. An adjunct is simply an ingredient that is not strictly necessary to brew the beer. In some cases the purpose of the adjunct is to reduce costs, while in others it is to achieve certain flavours (e.g. in honey beers, or various spiced beers).

If cost is the primary concern, then GMO ingredients may be picked if they are cheapest.

When adjuncts are used for flavour, cost is not going to be the primary concern so it would be incorrect to assume that a GMO source would be picked by default.

  • Ok, I guess what I really meant to ask then was "are adjuncts like rice and corn GMO by default."
    – AMA
    Apr 22, 2014 at 12:16
  • 2
    Even then, the answer is probably "no" if you look at it globally. For example, this list of Australian beers shows most are free of GMOs: truefood.org.au/documents/True%20Food%20Bev_Full.pdf, and I doubt everything on the green list is also free of adjuncts. It might be different in other countries though. Apr 22, 2014 at 13:38

First of all, GMO seem to be getting a bad reputation, as opposed to the hormones that are given to animals, like dairy cows. In general, GMOs are safe. In fact, modifying plants' properties and features to something that the farmer wants is been going on for thousands of years (it's how we got broccoli from a plant that looked more like kale).

That said, many of the Light Lagers (BJCP Styles 1A, 1B and 1C) have adjuncts like corn and rice (as much as 40% of the total grain bill), both of which are notorious for having many varieties that are GMO. One of the reasons for this is that it allows the brewer to brew a high ABV beer and add water back to bring the ABV down to whatever the local laws say are the maximum without being labeled with the ABV. Large breweries will manufacture in one state and sell their product in many states.

I have noticed that some beer labels list GMO free rather prominently, however, if a GMO free lifestyle is something you're interested in, I would stick to beers that have ONLY Barley, Hops, Water and Yeast as ingredients.

According the Briess, a very large maltster, website: [B]ecause malt is made from whole grain and minimally processed, it is an all natural ingredient that helps achieve product claims like natural, healthy, Kosher and non-GMO.

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