The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has banned an ExxonMobil advertisement after its claims relating to environmental benefits of using algae to form biofuels were found to be misleading.
A complaint was filed by a viewer against the TV ad, featuring a scientist talking about using algae to form biofuels.
He said: "In using algae to form biofuels, we're not competing with the food supply, and they absorb CO2, so they help solve the greenhouse problem as well."
However, the complainant - who believes that burning algae as fuel would result in the re-release of any CO2 that has been absorbed - objected that the ad misleadingly implied the technology would reduce CO2 levels.
ExxonMobil cited research which it claimed proved that second generation biofuels achieved greenhouse gas reductions on a comparative basis.
The firm acknowledged that the study did not specifically analyse algae. It said it was "generally agreed" that algae had a potential to be more productive than conventional biofuels.
However, the ASA said the ad "made an objective claim that algae, if developed as a source of biofuel, would help solve the greenhouse problem". It concluded that the ad overstated the technology's total environmental impact and was therefore misleading.
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