YouTube is under fire for screening the programme Drugslab which shows presenters taking cocaine, MDMA and LSD on camera to teach people about the effects of different drugs.

Every week, presenters Nellie Benner, Bastiaan Rosman, and Rens Polman test a different drug, following suggestions from their viewers. They have tried poppers, salvia, MDMA, cocaine and mushrooms, all while hooked up to body temperature and blood pressure monitors.

YouTube claims the programme, which is supported by the Dutch Ministry of Education, Culture and Science, has "clear educational value." The video-sharing website said it was "proud to be a place people can visit to find information on a range of subjects."

Drugslab is viewed by people from over 1,570 countries and is a hit in the UK where it has attracted hundreds of thousands of viewers.

Jelle Klumpenaar, digital strategist at Dutch broadcaster BNN, said the aim of the programme is to educate people about drugs. "In many countries drugs are taboo, but even in those countries there are young people who experiment. They also want to know how to take drugs safely," he told TV channel NOS.

Benner, who appears on the programme snorting cocaine and getting high on poppers, agrees.

"Young people will come into contact with drugs anyway. Not talking about drugs just makes them more curious," she told NOS. "We don't tell people: 'You have to use drugs.' We just give advice that is fun to watch. I think it's important people understand how they work: in case they are ever tempted to take them."

On the YouTube channel Drugslab, Dutch presenters describe the effects of various drugs to their audience YouTube/Drugslab

The Netherlands has among the lowest rates of drug-induced mortalities in Europe, according to the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction.

But Drugslab has sparked outrage in the UK. The grandmother of a 16-year-old Daniel Ferguson, who died earlier this year after taking a cocktail of cocaine, ecstasy and LSD, criticised the programme for "glamorising" drug-taking.

"If the hosts look great and are having fun then you can understand why other impressionable people would feel like it's a good idea," Carole Ferguson told the Mail on Sunday. "Daniel took drugs because of peer pressure and you can see how these videos would encourage someone to try them out."

"Drugs affect everyone differently so just because the presenters are okay it doesn't mean everyone else will be. All it takes is for one bad dose for it to be lethal," she added.

Tory MP Simon Hart, who sits on the Commons' Digital and Culture Committee, has called for the programme to be taken down.

"People may conceivably die after doing what the people in these videos are doing," he said. "To argue they are performing an educational purpose is utterly disingenuous."

"People are beginning to wonder how serious online companies such as YouTube are about behaving responsibly instead of claiming it's freedom of speech or whatever," he added.

"Drugslab is a channel from a respected national public broadcaster in the Netherlands and aims to educate around the safe use and dangers of drugs," a statement from YouTube said.

"While YouTube has clear policies against content that encourages people to do dangerous or harmful things, we make exceptions for content with clear educational or documentary value."