Nestlé Says Nations Should Set Own GM Rules

Nestlé Says Nations Should Set Own GM Rules

Rich Western nations should not be the ones preaching the risks of genetically modified food to the poor, but rather, should let each developing country set their own regulations, a senior executive of Swiss food giant Nestlé said yesterday.

"I think it's very, very easy for us to sit when we have three meals a day, far more than we need, to preach to the rest of the world what they should be doing," Nestlé executive vice president Michael Garrett said at the World Economic Forum's Asia Pacific conference.

"If the 800 million people in the world who are starving today had the same set of choices, there will be a different issue all together. So I think what we've got to get, understanding in the West, is that one size does not fit all."

While agreeing with comments from a forum participant that those most affected in the developing countries are often ill informed and not given a choice, Garrett said "millions and millions" of lives could be saved by using new technology.

"At the moment, there's a tremendous pressure from the developed world to not to allow that to happen. And there is a question of risk and reward. People are saying the risk is too high. Of course there is a risk," he said.

"How far do you have to analyse the risk on something like golden rice (fortified with Vitamin A) because you know you can start tomorrow saving lives. How much risk do you have to avoid before you start using that kind of technology?"

He said it was up to the governments to regulate the biotechnology and define labelling standards.

"I think this is for the government to set the rules when it comes to basic health in any community, whether it's Australia, or China or any part of the world," he said.

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