WFPL is one of Louisville's public radio stations. Last week it did a story about corn and, being in Kentucky, that means it was also about bourbon whiskey.
The story starts with the observation that nearly 90 percent of the corn produced in the United States is genetically modified, "GMO" in the parlance. Yet there are still many people who worry about the safety of GMO corn and other foods. Even though fermentation and distillation are processes that transform grain starch into alcohol, so thoroughly that none of the original plant material remains, many people still wonder about the use of GMO grain in distilled spirits.
WFPL visited the Four Roses Distillery in Lawrenceburg and talked to Master Distiller Jim Rutledge. Four Roses uses only non-GMO corn. Rutledge said Four Roses is only able to keep getting it because the company is willing to pay a premium price—and the farm group they’ve been using for 52 years is still GMO-free.
He says that because GMO is now so common, and non-GMO fields can be contaminated with GMO material, it may become impossible for the distillery to remain GMO-free. Other distilleries are having the same issue.
No major American distiller has ever expressed the opinion that GMO grain is dangerous. If they prefer non-GMO it is only because some of their customers, particularly in Europe, insist on it, or require that products containing GMO ingredients must disclose that fact on their label.