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Industry and world leaders discuss beating poor nutrition

By Alex McNally , 24-Jan-2008

Improving worldwide nutrition was brought to the international forefront at the World Economic Forum last night.

Businesses and international leaders sat around the table to discuss how global nutrition can be improved - and concluded that collaboration was the key to success. DuPont's Craig Binetti, who attended the forum on Investing in Nutrition, said developing partnerships between public businesses, governments and non-government organisations was important to elevating global nutrition. Indeed, the problem of malnutrition has reached worrying heights. Earlier this month, a series of articles published in the Lancet said adequate supplementation with vitamin A and zinc could help save some of the 3.5million children who die from undernutrition. The World Economic Forum 2008, held in Switzerland, brings together some 2,500 participants from 88 countries. It gives the opportunity for some of the most prominent researchers, campaigners, and politicians the chance to discuss ways to improve the state of the world. With international firms and policymakers taking the issue seriously at the forum, this situation comes a step closer to achieving a further improved level of cooperation between the industry and governments. Industry examples The president of DuPont's health and nutrition arm said at the meeting there were four mega trends unfolding around the world that will affect food supply and nutrition. He called them: population growth; increased food production; the drive for renewable fuels and materials; and the nutritional compositional of food. He said: "With the world population expected to increase by 40 percent by 2050 - and much of that occurring in developing countries - a different food delivery model must be developed. "Nutrition is a key area for the food industry, as it affects the entire spectrum of human health. "Healthy and safe food provides sustainable development and helps to reduce disease." DuPont has some example of projects which are aimed at tackling this very issues. Solae, which falls under the agriculture and nutrition arm of the company, for example, is helping to supply a spy protein-fortified beverage as part of a Nigerian school feeding program. "This is the type of collaboration that businesses, governments and non-governmental organizations need to undertake in order to ensure every human has access to healthy and affordable nutrition," Binetti said. DuPont is of course not the first firm to have programs which help boost malnutrition. Dutch chemical group DSM announced in March last year a global partnership with the United Nations' World Food Programme (WFP) that aims to improve and increase nutritious food for people in poor countries and during humanitarian crises. The firm said it would help the WFP in three ways: by providing expertise and knowledge in micronutrients; providing products, such as vitamins and minerals for food fortification; and financial assistance.

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