Granada rejects Monsanto complaint

21 September 1998

Granada rejects Monsanto complaint

By FWi staff

GRANADA TV has rejected a complaint by Monsanto about a World in Action programme which claimed consumers face health risks from genetically modified (GM) food.

Monsanto claims that the World in Action programme, Eat Up Your Genes, breached the Broadcasting Standards Commission Code of Guidance on Fairness and Privacy.

The programme, which was broadcast last month, claimed that research showed GM potatoes fed to rats caused growth retardation and damage to their immune systems.

The research was carried out by Dr Arpad Pusztai at the Rowett Institute in Aberdeen.

Two days after the broadcast, Dr Pusztai was suspended from his job. The Rowett Institute said it regretted that “discussions with the media [had] led to the presentation of information which misled everyone concerned.”

Monsanto officials said the programme sparked an unnecessary food scare about GM food.

“It suggested that genetically modified foods had been rushed on to the market without adequate long-term testing,” said Monsantos UK technical director Colin Merritt. “This is not the case and it was irresponsible to alarm viewers in this way.”

But a statement from World in Action maintained that the programme was fair to Monsanto.

“We reported Dr Pusztai in good faith,” the statement said. “In any case, neither his work nor his comments in our programme… concerned Monsanto products, and no-one has ever suggested they did.”

The World in Action team insists that short-term tests at the Rowett Institute did show that rats suffered an adverse reaction to being fed GM potatoes.

The Broadcasting Standards Commission has a target of replying to 90% of complaints regarding fairness within six to nine months.

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