Organisation - October 28, 2011

Is it advertising?

Is Wageningen giving the dairy industry free advertising? Start by determining whether the disputed report really is advertising, says the Advertising Code Commission.

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This morning the commission is studying the complaint lodged by animal rights organization Wakker Dier against Wageningen UR and the Dutch Dairy organization NZO. The bone of contention is a press release  published by Wageningen UR on 25 November 2010 about a positive link between milk consumption and the risk of cardiovascular disease.
Sheer advertising, says Wakker Dier. And, moreover, a distortion of the facts coming out of the scientific study the press release was based on. The Wageningen research is funded by the NZO. According to Wakker Dier it is as clear as day that the dairy organization influenced the content of the article. For this reason, says Wakker Dier, the press release contravenes the advertising code.
Speculation
Nonsense, say Wageningen UR and the NZO. According to them there is no question of advertising, but of freedom of opinion. Both parties categorically deny that the NZO in any way influenced the controversial press release. 'Inconceivable', says Wageningen UR's lawyer Jaap Kronenberg. 'It would be scientific suicide.' All accusations of influence 'are based on speculation', says the NZO's lawyer Kurt Stöpetie.
Orchestrated
Wakker Dier sees it differently. According to the animal rights organization it simply cannot be a coincidence that the Wageningen UR press release came out the same day that the NZO in Ede held a symposium, at which there was a lecture about the research referred to in the press release. 'Clearly orchestrated', thinks Wakker Dier's lawyer Alexander Bruinhof. 'And then they claim not to have conferred on the content? Most unlikely.'

But the Advertising Code Commission is not that far yet. The commission wants first to assess whether the milk press release could be considered advertising. Only then will it look into whether Wageningen UR is in breach of the regulations on advertising. Their verdict will be announced soon.
 

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