Video | Business Headlines | Internet | Science | Scientific Ethics | Technology | Search


Truth less important than "rigorous debate”

Truth less important than "rigorous debate" says Advertising Standards Authority.

The Advertising Standards Authority says debate is more important than applying strict rules against misleading advertising and has rejected a complaint against a pro-GE industry lobby-group. The Authority said the Life Science Network advertising campaign prior to the last election was "advocacy" where the rules about misleading readers should be applied "liberally".

But at least one of the media organisations which ran the advertisement say the Life Science 'advocacy' advertising put the Media in a difficult position and that in future such advertising would be more closely examined. In correspondence to the ASA a spokesperson for The Dominion Post said "The question about truthful representation is another issue.... The advertisement makes the very clear claim that there have been no health issues substantiated involving consumption of GE products and the complainant documents examples which certainly appear to be at odds with the claim".

The Dominion Post added: "As a publisher we are in a very difficult situation when looking at this form of advertising...However to avoid similar problems in the future it may be necessary to ensure that advertisements involving the GE debate are more robustly examined and questions asked as necessary."

The incidence of GE L-Tryptophan which killed scores of people and maimed thousands remains a particular point of scientific contention.

The board noted that according to the Life Sciences Network the adverse effects of a batch of GE L-Tryptophan had been assigned by the "United States courts", to the manufacturing process rather than the process of genetic modification. However, the Board reiterated its position that "it was not an arbiter of scientific fact"

Describing its view on "advocacy" advertising, the Authority says robust debate in a democratic society is to be encouraged and that the Codes should be interpreted "liberally". "The spirit of the Code is more important than t echnical breaches. People have the right to express their views and this right should not be unduly or unreasonably restricted by Rules", say the Authority.

The Board also noted that the Life Sciences Network used in its defence a newspaper article from The New Zealand Herald of 25 May 2002, saying the police had agreed that "the sabotage was probably the work of a far left environmental group, the Wild Greens". In the Board's view that was sufficient substantiation of the claim used in the advertisement.

" It is very concerning that the Authority rather than the Courts have been left to judge the opinions of police and Life Sciences lobbyists and blame an incidence of sabotage specifically on the Wild Greens, despite no evidence and no proof that insiders were not somehow involved, " says Jon Carapiet, a spokesperson for GE-Free NZ in food and environment.

There is concern from GE-free community groups that this decision will encourage the Life Sciences Industry to make more misleading claims in an effort to promote itself. This has occurred overseas and has included suppression of scientific research in order to justify claims of GE safety by ensuring "there is no evidence of harm".

" Basic research has been ignored or sidelined and that allows GE lobbyists to say they haven't seen the evidence of harm, "says Mr Carapiet. " Basic testing is simply not being done."

"(The Board) was of the view that well known advocates such as the Life Sciences Network and the Complainant (Claire Bleakley), should continue to debate the issue of genetic engineering and other scientific matters publicly."

© Scoop Media

Business Headlines | Sci-Tech Headlines


Auckland Transport: Successful Bridge Repair Opens Two Additional Lanes To Traffic

The opening of two additional lanes on the Auckland Harbour Bridge this morning will help relieve some motorway congestion for motorists heading home to the North Shore tonight. More>>


Statistics New Zealand: COVID-19 Sees Record 12.2 Percent Fall In New Zealand’s Economy

Gross domestic product (GDP) fell by 12.2 percent in the June 2020 quarter, the largest quarterly fall recorded since the current series began in 1987, as the COVID-19 restrictions in place through the quarter impacted economic activity, Stats NZ said ... More>>


Climate: Scientists Release ‘Blueprint’ To Save Critical Ecosystems And Stabilize The Earth’s Climate

A group of scientists and experts produced the first comprehensive global-scale analysis of terrestrial areas essential for biodiversity and climate resilience, totaling 50.4% of the Earth's land. The report was published in Science Advances ... More>>


MPI: Independent Review Launched Into Assurances For Safe Transport Of Livestock By Sea

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) has launched an independent review of the assurances it receives for the safe transport of livestock by sea. MPI Director-General Ray Smith says Mike Heron QC has been appointed to lead the review, which is expected ... More>>


Computers: New Zealand PC Market Grows Nearly 40% Due To Work From Home Demand

COVID-19 had large impacts on demand for PCs as businesses prepared for lockdowns by purchasing notebooks to mobilise their workforce. In the second quarter of 2020, New Zealand's Traditional PC market experienced a 39.7% year-on-year (YoY) growth ... More>>


University Of Auckland: Whale-Watching By Satellite – Follow Their Travels Online

Scientists have successfully attached satellite tracking tags to six New Zealand southern right whales, or tohorā, and are inviting the public to follow the whales’ travels online. Part of a major research project involving the University of Auckland ... More>>

Commerce Commission: Kiwibank Admits System Failures And Agrees To Pay Customers $5.2 Million

Kiwibank has entered into a settlement agreement with the Commerce Commission after reporting that it failed to have in place robust home loan variation disclosure policies, procedures and systems. In a settlement dated 27 August 2020, Kiwibank admitted that ... More>>

Ministry of Health: Public Transport Distancing Requirements Relaxed

Physical distancing requirements on public transport have been reviewed by the Ministry of Health to determine whether they are still required at Alert Level 2 (or below). The Ministry’s assessment is that mandatory face covering and individuals tracking ... More>>


NZHIA: New Zealand Hemp Industry Set To Generate $2 Billion Per Annum And Create 20,000 Jobs

A new report says a fully enabled hemp industry could generate $2 billion in income for New Zealand by 2030, while also creating thousands of new jobs. Written by industry strategist Dr Nick Marsh, the report has prompted calls from the New Zealand Hemp ... More>>


Stats NZ: One In 14 Employed People Report High Risk Of Losing Jobs

About one in 14 workers say they expect to lose their job or business by mid-2021, Stats NZ said today. A survey of employed people in the June 2020 quarter showed 7 percent felt there was a high or almost certain chance of losing their job or business ... More>>

ASB Quarterly Economic Forecast: NZ Economy Doing Better Than Expected, But Challenges Remain

August lockdown estimated to have shaved 8% off NZ’s weekly GDP, and 0.5% off annual GDP Economy now expected to shrink 5% (year-on-year) by end of 2020 Unemployment rate now expected to peak at 7.2% The latest ASB Quarterly Economic Forecast is less ... More>>