THE BBC has been accused of keeping misinformation in the public domain after it refused to correct factual inaccuracies in its reporting.

The error, which has been repeated across multiple stories on the BBC News website, relates to the Tory government’s plans to legalise genetically edited foods in England.

“Genetically edited” foods were regulated in the same way as “genetically modified” foods under EU law, but the Tories have signalled plans to move in a new direction post-Brexit.

The difference between the two is hard to define, but the UK Government has said that genetic editing creates organisms “which could have occurred naturally or been produced by traditional breeding”.

READ MORE: Tories' attack on food standards and transparency is an attack on democracy

Environment Secretary George Eustice made clear that his Genetic Technology (Precision Breeding) Bill would legislate to relax restrictions on a range of genetic editing strategies, including the transplanting of foreign genes.

Eustice (below) said: “The thing about gene-edited food is it's simply moving a trait for instance, from one variety of wheat to another.”

The National: George Eustice

However, BBC reporting on the issue states that genetic editing only involves “snipping out a small piece of DNA”.

It contrasts this with genetic modification, which it claims “involves adding genes, sometimes from a different species”. The BBC reports further claim that such genetic modification is not in the scope of the Tories' bill.

BBC readers would be led to the incorrect belief that genetic engineering involving the insertion of foreign genes is not about to be legalised in England.

In fact, the UK Government’s own definition makes clear that it includes “adding genes” under the genetic editing umbrella and that it will be legalised.

Furthermore, the Tories claim that genetically edited food is "indistinguishable" from its natural counterpart and so firms will not be asked to label it when it is sold in UK shops.

Despite agriculture being devolved, the post-Brexit Internal Market Act means that the Scottish and Welsh governments will be powerless to prevent the sale of unlabelled genetically edited foods in their nations.

Asked more than once if they would be correcting the errors in their story, the BBC repeatedly refused.

A BBC spokesperson said: “We stand by our journalism and will be following the progress of the bill closely.”

Pat Thomas, the director of campaign group Beyond GM, said the BBC had “revealed its bias”.

She told The National: “As the saying goes: ‘a lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes’.

“In refusing to correct the factual errors in its story, the BBC is ensuring that misinformation stays in the public domain and has revealed its bias and willingness to pervert and obstruct any honest debate about what agricultural genetic technologies are and how they should be regulated.”

Dr Michael Antoniou, a genetics expert from King's College London School of Medicine, said he could not understand the BBC’s refusal to change their articles.

READ MORE: Food experts slam the BBC for 'lies' about genetically edited foods 

He said: “I’m not sure why they don’t change their position. It’s very, very clear that gene editing does more than just snip out a bit of DNA. I find it quite staggering really. Why not?

“Even in the bill, even those carrying out gene editing in plants will tell you they do more than just snip out bits of DNA. You modify gene function or add completely new genes, so I don’t know what to say to be honest.

“Why are they so intransigent on this? Are they embarrassed or humiliated?”

Antoniou further said that the mistake could be a result of the BBC looking to “oversimplify” their reporting “rather than get into technical detail that might confuse the reader”.

He added: “I can’t think of any other logical reason. I don’t understand why the BBC would not want to change its narrative so it is not more fully representative of what goes on.”