ASA slams Iceland over GM ad claims

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 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

reader’s fear’.



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

1998.



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

firms.



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.’



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