Genetically modified (GM) food is unnecessary to feed the world and the food industry would reap more benefits from using resources more sustainably and employing other techniques.
That’s the view of Hans Johr, corporate head of sustainable agriculture at Nestlé and honorary president of SAI Platform, a group of top global food and drink manufacturers working to improve supply chain sustainability.
“There are a lot of new breeding technologies today that don’t use GM food. You can do a lot of things without GM. GM per se is not a golden bullet, but may be an interesting tool in the box.
“We [Nestlé] have a very simple way of looking at GM: listen to what the consumer wants. If they don’t want it in products, you don’t put it in them.”
Sustainable water a vital issue
Sustainable use of water was a vital issue and if addressed could deliver benefits beyond anything GM could offer said Johr. “More than 70% of fresh water is being used in agriculture. We are partnering with companies that can depollute sewage water and use it for agriculture.”
Nestlé, among others, has worked on a way of measuring the water footprint used in the whole food and drink supply chain. It is supported by a working group on water use that has been set up as part of the SAI Platform. “We have developed a water impact calculation of how much water is being used for crop production,” said Johr.
Many farmers needed to be educated about when, where and how to use irrigation, as they had often never learned these skills, he said.
SAI Platform celebrated its 10th anniversary in May this year.