Television chefs and other public figures have been blamed for preventing science from feeding the poor by campaigning against genetically modified foods.

The environmentalist Mark Lynas said GM crops could help provide more food at a lower price by reducing the need for pesticides and fertilisers.

He said the poorest people of the world could benefit from crops with added nutritional benefits or designed to resist droughts and floods, but such crops were not being developed because people in positions of power said GM was dangerous.

Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, the chef, the gardener Monty Don and the Prince of Wales have all spoken against GM.