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Nestlé chief hits at ‘well-fed activists’

FT.com — The chairman of Nestlé, the world’s biggest food company, has hit out at “well-fed activists” whose hostility to new food technologies was exacerbating a global food crisis by holding back agricultural productivity.

Peter Brabeck-Letmathe, who is a high-profile critic of the European Union’s common agricultural policy, said that since 1990 the rate of global population in-crease had overtaken the rate of food production at least partly because of opposition to new food technologies by consumers in developed countries.

“It is disheartening to see how easily a group of well-intentioned and well-fed activists can decide about new technologies at the expense of those who are starving,” he told a conference in Milan aimed at bringing the private sector into the debate on global food security.

Mr Brabeck-Letmathe has been a long-time proponent of genetically modified food. Nestlé sells food with GM ingredients in many countries where it is not banned and has claimed its risks are overstated.

The executive said the annual rate of growth in agricultural yields was 2 per cent between 1970 and 1990 while the rate of population growth was 1.7 per cent a year.

However, since 1990 yields had been declining relative to population growth, and would continue to do so between 2009 and 2017, with the world’s population expanding at 1.1 per cent a year against agricultural yield growth of only 0.8 per cent.

He also warned that last year’s soaring food prices, which caused social unrest in several developing countries, could return unless the structural problems of food production were addressed. The soaring price of commodities came about despite what he said was a record year for food production.

“Food security is not a short-term issue,” he said. “It will affect [many] more than 1bn people if we do not change radically how we handle the world’s water.”

via FT.com / Global Economy – Nestlé chief hits at ‘well-fed activists’.

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