The Chairman of the world’s largest food company, Nestle S.A, Peter Brabeck-Letmathe has expressed his doubts about whether the world could survive on organic food products long term according to a report by Food magazine.
The Nestlé chairman comments it may not be practical or realistic to meet the global food demand solely by organic products.
Brabeck-Lethmathe is sure that organically raised crops yield 30 percent less than produce grown through conventional agriculture. So the option of using organic foods to feed the world is eliminated – outside of wealthier countries in which people can afford the luxury. Moreover, the manure used to fertilize organic crops is unsanitary and leads to the deaths of up to 40 people per year. Brabeck-Letmathe believes the organic food market has reached its peak and is unlikely to grow larger than it already is.
Felix Prinz zu Löwenstein, chairman of the board of the Bund Ökologische Lebensmittelwirtschaft (BÖLW) responds to the comments of the Nestlé CEO: „Peter Brabeck-Letmathe is an important person. No other company on earth sells more processed foods than Nestle. He needs large quantities, cheap commodities. It is easy to understand that he abhores organic agriculture.“
The claims made by the Nestlé chairman, however, were much too radical and above all wrong:„Indeed, crops in organic agriculture are well below those produced by conventional farming – if related to Central Europe only – but what a price must be paid! The devastation of biodiversity, the heating up of climate change, nutrient overloads in water – to name only a few effects resulting from the low-cost supply of industrially produced foodstuffs.“
In response to the „absurd“ theory of the deaths of 40 people caused by organic manure Prince zu Löwenstein quotes the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) which puts the estimate of deaths resulting from pesticides at 40.000 per year.
„There is no ‚Keep going‘ for that kind of production, therefore ecological agriculture has to feed the world“, underlines zu Löwenstein. „It can be done – unless we insist on continuing to waste half of all the produced foods and to pass on our standards of meat consumption to the rest of the world. Then, indeed, yields will not be sufficient – by no(!) production system. There is, however, a growing number of encouraging examples for a succesful ecological expansion operating without chemistry and excess amounts of energy. In my book ‚Food Crash – Wir werden uns ökologisch ernähren oder gar nicht mehr‘ (‚Food Crash – we will subsist organically or not at all’) they are described. I hope, it will be read at Nestlé’s, too…!“