Swiss food giant Nestle supports water sustainability and is a member of the SAI Platform for supply chain sustainability, and GMWatch in the U.S. reports that Nestle’s corporate head of agriculture, Hans Jöhr, is president of SAI Platform. Mr Johr says Nestlé has 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. Genetically modified food is unnecessary to feed the world and the food industry would reap more benefits from using resources more sustainably and employing other techniques.”
But things seem to be different in the U.S. where, according to records kept by the California Secretary of State, Nestle USA made four separate donations to the ‘No on 37 Coalition’, fighting against the labeling of GMO ingredients in California. In a seven-week period, the company gave nearly $1.17 million to prevent the measure from passing.
In Brazil, according to a major Brazilian business publication and GMWatch, a Sao Paolo court has demanded that multi-billion dollar food giant Nestle label all of their products as genetically modified that have over 1% GMO content. The ruling coincides with Brazilian law which demands all food manufacturers alert consumers to the presence of GMOs within their products.
The court exposed a deep relationship between the Brazilian government and a major food industry lobby group ABIA to fight existing GM labeling rules and stop the court from issuing the ruling. The court ordered that Nestle pay R5,000 per product found on the market that contravened the order. The case followed an analysis that found GM soy ingredients in the composition of Nestle’s strawberry flavoured Bono cookies.
Nestle’s policy on GMOs in food production states: “The safety of our products and the integrity of the ingredients from which they are manufactured are paramount to Nestlé. Genetically modified crops, as all raw materials used by Nestlé, comply to strict regulatory and safety evaluations. WHO, FAO, OECD and numerous independent scientific bodies have concluded that genetically modified crops, including ingredients derived from them that have passed food safety evaluation procedures, can be registered as safe for use in food production. Nestlé concurs with their shared opinion that such crops are as safe as their traditional counterparts.
A UK report, GMO Myths and Truths (Earth Open Source, June 2012), was published by a team of genetic scientists at London’s King's College, Michael Antoniou, Claire Robinson and John Fagan. The scientists conclude that on the evidence presented in their report, “GM technology is fundamentally unsound and poses scientifically proven risks to human and animal health”. They add that the claims made for the benefits of GM crops are “highly exaggerated and GM crop technology has been shown to be unsustainable.”
Another blow was struck against GM food in Turkey, with the withdrawal of an application for GM soy by ingredients firm Ünak Gidain August, while Turkey will stop plans to import 29 different GM organisms. A campaign, called 'Yemezler', was launched by Greenpeace Mediterranean and inspired around 326,000 people to vote against the introduction of GM food.
Nestle was also in the news earlier in the year when it stated it wants to fix issues in its Ivory Coast cocoa supply chain after it sanctioned an independent investigation by the Fair Labor Association. This found numerous child labor violations and kick started an ambitious plan to eventually eradicate forced labor and child labor in its production cycle, reported by CNN on July 29.
Nestle, the world’s largest food company, which has in its own words, ”billionaire brands” such as Kit Kat, Nescafe and Herta, posted 44.1 billion (CHF Swiss Francs) in revenue for the first half 2012, up 6.6% for the year and profit of 6.6 billion CHF, up 6.3%. There was no mention of corporate social responsibility or sustainability in its half-year report.