Monthly Archives: January 2012

ADVERTISING STANDARDS COUNCIL OF INDIA CONCLUDES THAT MAHYCO MONSANTO BIOTECH’S CLAIMS ON BOLLGARD ARE NOT SUBSTANTIATED

A prominent advertisement by Mahyco-Monsanto Biotech Ltd titled “Bollgard boosts the Indian cotton farmers’ income by over Rs. 31,500 crores” that appeared in Hindustan Times on August 30th 2011, was found to be not substantiated in its claims by the Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI). ASCI found that the claims made in the advertisement were not substantiated under the self regulation code I.1. of ASCI which has been laid down ‘to ensure the truthfulness and honesty of representations and claims made by advertisements and to safeguard against misleading advertisements’.

This advertisement was a part of the massive publicity campaign initiated by MMB when numerous prominent advertisements appeared in various national dailies in August 2011.

“This is a vindication of what we have been saying so far that claims on Bt cotton are hyped up and not based on facts. We are glad that the Advertising Standards Council of India’s Consumer Complaints Council deliberated on the issues raised by a complaint on the matter at length and arrived at this conclusion. I urge all those who are being misled by such advertisements to re-look at all facts available and arrive at rational and scientific conclusions on products like Bt cotton”, said Rachna Arora of ‘Public Awareness on Genetically Modified Food’, a group working to create informed debates on this matter.

Rachna Arora, in her complaint to ASCI dated the same date as the date of the appearance of the advertisement (Aug 30th 2011), challenged the claims made with regard to Bollgard technology by the advertisers, on Reduced Insecticide Usage, on Increased Yields, on Increased Farmer Incomes, on Inbuilt Plant Protection and on Increase of Income of Farmers by Rs. 31500 crores and pointed out that these claims are either false or unsubstantiated.

ASCI had forwarded the complaint to the advertiser for their comments. ASCI’s Consumer Complaints Council then discussed the complaint in a meeting held on November 22nd 2011 and the observations of the CCC were also reviewed with the advertiser subsequently. After completing this process also, the CCC upheld the complaint of Rachna Arora and concluded that the claims made in the advertisement and cited in the complaint, were not substantiated.

The CCC of the ASCI upheld the complaint made by Rachna Arora “as the advertisement contravened Chapter I. 1. of the ASCI code” which states the following:

Advertisements must be truthful. All descriptions, claims and comparisons which relate to matters of objectively ascertainable fact should be capable of substantiation. Advertisers and advertising agencies are required to produce such substantiation as and when called upon to do so by the Advertising Standards Council of India.

Monsanto was earlier fined 15000 Euros in France in January 2007 after being found guilty of false advertising with regard to its herbicide. In May 2010, the Advertising Standards Authority of South Africa found the claims made by Monsanto through an advertisement called, “Is Your Food Safe? Biotechnology: The True Facts” in a magazine to be unsubstantiated and asked for the advertisement to be withdrawn immediately.

“This goes to show that this is a repeated feature in the claims made on its products by Monsanto and its associates and companies like Monsanto are having to resort to spending their resources on such advertisements even as the general public is awakening to the dangers of transgenic and other toxic products”, said Rachna.

For more information, contact:

Rachna Arora : +91 9811746647

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ANNEXURES: CORRESPONDENCE BETWEEN ASCI & RACHNA ARORA VERMA

On Monday, January 2, 2012, ASCI wrote:

Further to our e-mail of 7th December 2011, the complaint was considered by the Consumer Complaints Council (CCC) at their meeting held on 22nd November.

As per their decision, the complaint has been UPHELD as the advertisement contravened Chapter I.1 of the ASCI Code. The CCC concluded that the claims made in the advertisement and cited in the complaint, were not substantiated.

In response to the CCC decision, the Advertiser has informed us that the said Ad has been modified.

Thank you for having referred this complaint to us.

Assuring you of our services in the pursuit of Self-Regulation in Advertising.

Alan Collaco
Secretary General
A S C I

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From: ASCI
Date: Wed, Dec 7, 2011 at 6:51 PM
Subject: C.3738 – Your complaint against the advertisement of “Bollgard”, which appeared in the Hindustan Times, New Delhi dated 30th August 2011
To: rachna01@gmail.com
Cc: asci@vsnl.com

Further to our letter No.C.3738 dated 17th October 2011, the complaint under reference was taken up for discussion at the Consumer Complaints Council (CCC) meeting held on 22nd November 2011.

The information provided by the Advertiser was deliberated at length and the issues involved were reviewed.

We are in the process of reviewing with the Advertiser, the observations made at the meeting. We shall advise you of the outcome by 22nd December.

Alan Collaco

Secretary General

A S C I

———- Forwarded message ———-
From: Rachna
Date: Tue, Aug 30, 2011 at 12:53 PM
Subject: {swaraj yatra planning} False and misleading advertisement by Monsanto Mahyco Biotech limited
To: asci@vsnl.com, alan@ascionline.org
Cc: swarajyatraplanning@googlegroups.com

Dear Sir,

Please find attached my complaint regarding a false and misleading advertisement in The Hindustan Times dated 30th August 2011, New Delhi edition. I attempted to file an online complaint but could not do so due to a server error on the ASCI website. I am attaching the screen shot of the error response for your information and action.

I have filled up the downloadable form from your website and have attempted to provide all relevant information for your information. Please feel free to contact me for any additional information that you might need to take action against the multi national organisation indulging in unfair practices.

The internet link to the said advertisement is given below. I am also attaching the screen shot of the advertisement for your convenience.

http://epaper.hindustantimes.com/PUBLICATIONS/HT/HD/2011/08/30/index.shtml

I request you to stop all advertisements and paid news by Monsanto-MahycoBiotech limited and associated organisations immediately till this complaint is resolved. Please acknowledge receipt and update me regarding the action taken by your esteemed organisation.

Thanks and regards

Sharad Pawar reiterates State Govts authority….

In a letter to the Chattisgarh Agriculture Minister Mr Chandrasekhar Sahu, Sharad Pawar, Union Agriculture Minister reiterates that if the state government does not agree for conduct of any GM crop field trials in the State, no approvals would be accorded by GEAC for such trials (However, this is not quite the case now since GM maize and GM mustard trials were approved for Madhya Pradesh even after the state government wrote to the Centre against such trials, for example).

This information was obtained under Right To Information Act. A copy of the letter is available here.

Kerala Govt reiterates its stand against GM crops

In a letter to activists, the Kerala Government’s Secretary, Agriculture, reiterates the government’s stand against GM crops and informs that the state government has already conveyed its stand of not permitting any GM research or even trial, within the boundaries of Kerala to Government of India.

Letter of Secretary-Agriculture-kerala can be downloaded here.