Around about a year ago, Nature carried an advert for a competition to create a PhD Course in "The First Thousand Days of Life". I was sure we could put together a good proposal, so I emailed various colleagues in perinatal science. They were keen, until I mentioned the dreaded word. Nestle. It was the Foundation, not the company, but suddenly peadiatricians, neonatologists and dieticians could no longer consider being involved, and in the end we had no consortium. Nestle have had bad press for various misdemeanours, the environmentally unfriendly coffee pod, the supposedly phallic chocolate bar, animal welfare abuses on their dairy farms and so on, but nothing surpasses the ire of the breastfeeding lobby. Rightly, perhaps. Reports such as "Nestle toten (kills) babies" were found to be libellous, but the agressive marketing of infant formulae (by numerous companies) has undoubtedly done harm. "Nature's perfect food. Breast milk will give your baby the best start in life. We firmly believe that breastfeeding is the best way to feed a baby and are strongly committed to its protection and promotion". I suspect there are many who will never be persuaded to believe words like these, taken from Nestle's corporate webpage. Or this: "Nestlé is committed to improving farm animal welfare across our global supply chains...we recognize the vital link between animal welfare and the health of animals raised for food, and firmly believe that robust farm animal health and welfare standards can have both a direct and an indirect impact on food quality and safety". Before you rush to join the cynical condemnation, you should know that Nestle recently invested 400M$ in a dairy education centre in China, in partnership with University of Wisconsin. What concerns me is that big business may have learnt lessons quicker than some of us, and we may be at risk of cutting off our nose to spite our face. I cannot help believing that effective partnership with industry will be a quicker route to improved animal welfare and food security than an isolationist approach, although I recognize that equal partnerships are hard to achieve. Should we not try? By the way, I can find no evidence that there were any takers for the Nestle Foundation PhD competition. Who pulled the plug, I wonder: the funders, or the teachers?