Europe should reconsider its opposition to genetically modified crops, according to Peter Brabeck-Letmathe, chairman of Nestlé.

Speaking to the Financial Times, Brabeck-Letmathe said: “You cannot today feed the world without genetically modified organisms. We have the means to make agriculture sustainable in the long term. What we don't see for the time being is political will.”

He added: “The European Union used political pressure in Africa to prevent some of those countries using genetically modified organisms. I don't think that was helpful for the agriculture of those countries.”

Meanwhile, countryside and wildlife agency Natural England has warned the government against “rushing headlong to embrace GM crops as the solution to rising food prices” because they can cause harm to wildlife.