Monsanto ads are misleading,
say pressure groups
By Boyd Champness
A SERIES of Monsanto advertisements highlighting the so-called benefits of genetically modified crops will be investigated by the Advertising Standards Agency (ASA).
The ASA confirmed yesterday (Monday) that it would be looking at the four adverts after receiving 12 complaints from pressure groups and interested parties.
The advertising campaign was instigated by Monsanto in a bid to win over consumer support for GM crops.
The three largest pressure groups to complain include the Green Party, the Soil Association and GeneWatch.
Sue Mayer, director of GeneWatch, said not only are the adverts misleading, but they are also factually wrong.
One of the four adverts claims that GM crops are good for the environment because they require less pesticide. However, it fails to mention that herbicide usage can actually increase with GM crops, Ms Mayer said.
Two of the adverts claim that GM potatoes and tomatoes have been approved by “the Government regulatory agencies of 20 countries (including the UK)”. This is simply not true, according to Ms Mayer.
“There has been no GM potato seed go through human or environmental safety assessments in Europe at all,” she said.
“If they (Monsanto) are going to advertise like this theyve got to get it 100% correct, and thats why weve made a complaint,” she added.
Dan Verakis, Monsanto spokesman, said the companys own studies confirm that GM crops do in fact cut pesticide and herbicide usage. Also, farmers use less tractor fuel when growing GM crops simply because the crops require fewer chemical applications.
Mr Verakis said the general public is under the impression that GM crops are something that have sprung up over the past few years, when in fact, Monsanto has been conducting biotechnology tests for the past 20 years.
“GM crops are not as complicated or as radical as people think, and these are the things that we are trying to convey to people in the adverts,” he said.