Monsanto's Response to ASA Ruling

August 11, 1999 | Monsanto Press Release

Monsanto would like to thank the Council of the Advertising Standards Authority for its ruling. With our advertising campaign last year we intended to inform the public of our opinion - and enthusiasm - on the subject of plant biotechnology. We perhaps did not take sufficiently into account the difference in culture between the UK and the USA in the way some of this information was presented. We recognize that the Council upheld four complaints and we regret the fact that these statements were not in strict conformity with the ASA Code. It was not our intention to mislead or deceive, and we apologize to anyone who might have understood these advertisements.

We ourselves learned during the course of this campaign. That is why in two of the four complaints which were upheld, we had already changed the advertisements before being notified of complaints by ASA. There were advertisements in which we referred to our genetically modified potatoes and tomatoes and, in the original versions, may have implied that they had been approved in over 20 countries, including the UK. While it is true that our biotech product in total have been approved in over 20 countries, the original advertisements did not make it clear that this does not apply individually to our biotech potatoes and tomatoes.

In the third upheld complaint, in which the statement that we had been testing genetically modified foods for 20 years was contested, the Council found that we had only provided evidence for 16 years of safety testing.

In the fourth, the Council found that quotes from academics which were cited did not make it clear that expert opinion is divided on the question of whether gene technology is an extension of traditional plant breeding.

But they did accept that the quotations were accurate.

The ASA has not upheld 9 of the 14 complaints they received about our 1998 UK advertising campaign. Amongst these are our statements about important issues such as the environment benefits of plant biotechnology on which the Council decided that we had provided enough evidence to support our opinions.

Again, we apologize for any misunderstandings our advertisements might have caused.