The Advertising Standards Authority this week warned retailers
against using scaremongering tactics regarding genetically modified
foods and organic produce in their advertising, as it upheld complaints
against ads from both Iceland and Tesco.
The ASA ruled that a leaflet by Iceland about GM foods had made several
’misleading’ and exaggerated claims in an ’unacceptable appeal to the
It upheld six out of nine complaints against Iceland, which has
transformed its brand’s standing with an anti-GM campaign led by chief
executive Malcolm Walker. Iceland will challenge the ruling and has
called for an independent review.
One complaint resulted from the two million copies of the leaflet,
called ’Important information for our customers: genetic modification
and how it affects you’, which were given out in stores from May
One of its claims was that ’mistakes have been made in genetic
engineering’, adding that a GM bacteria ’may have’ caused the deaths of
37 people in the US.
Bill Wadsworth, Iceland’s technical director, said the company believes
the complaint may have come from an academic working with biotech
He said: ’In the US, biotech companies are coming back after the
backlash and spending millions on PR backed by academic research. Now it
looks as though the same thing is happening here.’
The ASA also upheld complaints against Tesco for a brochure on organic
foods. Statements that organic farming did not use chemicals and that
consumers could notice a difference in the taste of organic fruit and
vegetables were deemed misleading.
Chris Reed, external affairs spokesman at the ASA, said: ’Both Tesco and
Iceland have taken the science that is available a little too far.’