Comments by Sir David Attenborough that sending food to famine-hit countries was “barmy” has angered charities that help the starving.

In an interview published in the Daily Telegraph the well-fed Attenborough commented: “What are all these famines in Ethiopia? What are they about? They’re about too many people for too little land. That’s what it’s about. And we are blinding ourselves. We say, get the United Nations to send them bags of flour. That’s barmy”.

The solution, he said, was control of population in poor countries, although how this long-term solution helped people starving now without being “barmy” and sending them food to save their lives was not made clear. Nor did he provide any hot tips on how population control could be achieved, other than to “keep on talking about it”, presumably as a TV presenter well-paid to do so.

Attenborough’s comments were described as “unhelpful” by the Overseas Development Institute and “the use of population growth as a smoke-screen” by WaterAid. The UK gave a barmy £261.5 million in aid to Ethopia in 2012-2013.

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