Biowatch SA: Vigilant Consumer Action Forces Monsanto to Withdraw GM Food Safety Claim
Thursday, 21 June 2007
Biowatch South Africa welcomes the ruling from the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) that genetically modified (GM) seed multinational Monsanto South Africa (Pty) Ltd withdraw its advert claiming that no negative reactions to GM foods have ever been reported.
ASA’s ruling followed a complaint from Mark Wells about a Monsanto SA (Pty) Ltd advert in February’s You magazine. The advert featured the heading “Is your food safe?” and contained an image of a woman with two children in a kitchen looking at a cake. Below the subheading “Biotechnology – the true facts” was a statement “this is one of the most extensively tested and controlled types of food and no negative reactions have ever been reported.”
ASA said, “the claim may not be used again in its current form until new substantiation has been submitted, evaluated and a new ruling is made”.
The ruling is a clear sign of growing vigilance by South African consumers about GM foods and the willingness of regulatory authorities to safeguard South Africans against misleading advertising.
Up to now, the chemical and crop conglomerate has focused its publicity efforts on farmers. It’s advert about the safety of GM foods in a mass consumer magazine like You suggests its growing concern about increasing consumer scepticism about GM food.
South Africa has no compulsory labelling of GM crops and ingredients. This is despite being the only country in the world that grows a staple food – maize - in a GM form.
The Monsanto that has been ordered to withdraw the advert is the same corporation that joined in opposing Biowatch South Africa’s successful court application for access to information that would shed light on the basis for decisions about the permitting of GM crops.
Monsanto was the only respondent that insisted, right to the end, on costs. In a strange twist, the court ordered Biowatch South Africa to pay Monsanto’s legal costs. Biowatch South Africa is currently awaiting judgement on its appeal against this costs order.
For more information, contact Leslie Liddell, Biowatch South Africa director, on 021 447 5939 or 973 307 8873.