Prince Charles has said genetic modification and engineering are threatening the very existence of famous French cheeses, during an award acceptance speech in Paris.
Accepting the François Rabelais prize for his organic farming efforts, The Prince of Wales said: “In a bacteriologically correct society, what will become of the Brie de Meaux, the Crottin de Chavignol or the Bleu d’Auvergne?
“In a microbe-free, progressive and genetically engineered future, what hope is there for the old-fashioned Fourme d’Ambert, the mal-formed Gruyère de Comté or the odorous Pont L’Eveque?”
He called out those who still practiced traditional craftsmanship, particularly involving food, saying that “a very important part” of European culture and lifestyle is down to those who make “such distinguished concoctions.”
The heir to the throne also said he will consider proposing the reintroduction of capons to the Duchy of Cornwall as a delicacy.
“Even when accepting a prize in the name of the foremost historian and advocate for the history and culture of French and European food, I find myself unable to recommend the consumption of herons, swans or peacocks, all of which featured regularly in the feasts of Rabelais.
“There is, however, in the description of a banquet in Gargantua, a reference to four hundred capons from Cornwall. And so I will certainly consider proposing to the farmers of the Duchy the reintroduction of this delicate dish — now very rare indeed — to the honour of Maitre Francois”
The prize is named after the French Renaissance scholar and physician and is awarded by France’s Institute of Sciences and Arts.
The Prince, who is well-known for his love of homegrown and organic produce, spoke about his passion for gastronomy and told an audience of distinguished scientists: “The distinctiveness of local cuisine is one of the most important ways we identify with the places and regions we love.”
Beginning the speech with an extension of his sympathy for those involved in the recent terror attacks on the French capital, Charles said that it was impossible to “talk sensibly about matters of everyday civilisation” but said it was necessary to be reminded of the “simple and timeless human values that lie at the heart of our society” in times of crisis.
Charles spoke of how honoured he was to receive the award and remarked that it was one he would treasure, “not least when I look at the list of previous winners and contributions they have made to French gastronomy.” he said, smiling.
Earlier in the day, he spoke at the UN Climate Change Conference, renewing his plea for world leaders to form an agreement at the end of its 12-day duration. In an impassioned speech, Charles likened the Earth to a hospital patient, saying : “If the planet were a patient, we would have treated her long ago.”
“You, Ladies and Gentlemen, have the power to put her on life support, and you must surely start the emergency procedures without further procrastination!”
He reinforced a French government initiative which focuses on the amount of carbon held in the earth’s social. According to the Prince of Wales: “if the quantity of carbon contained in soils could be increased by just 0.4% per year, the annual increase in carbon dioxide in the atmosphere could be halted. The same measures would, of course, also improve soil fertility and therefore our ability to feed a growing population.”
“I can only hope it will be given proper attention by policymakers.”
Charles’s latest comments also come as he helps launch a new initiative aimed at combating high pollution from major corporations with the threat of legal action.