Environmentalist regrets opposing GMOs

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Mark Lynas was instrumental in spurring on the anti-genetically modified food movement in the 1990s. But recently, he has changed his mind and he’s letting the world know about it.

Last week, Lynas delivered an address at the Oxford Farming Conference in which he states he was wrong about GMOs. According to remarks of his posted online, he explained his reversal.

“I want to start with some apologies. For the record, here and upfront, I apologise for having spent several years ripping up GM crops. I am also sorry that I helped to start the anti-GM movement back in the mid 1990s, and that I thereby assisted in demonising an important technological option which can be used to benefit the environment.

“As an environmentalist, and someone who believes that everyone in this world has a right to a healthy and nutritious diet of their choosing, I could not have chosen a more counter-productive path. I now regret it completely.

“So, I guess you’ll be wondering—what happened between 1995 and now that made me not only change my mind but come here and admit it? Well, the answer is fairly simple: I discovered science, and in the process I hope I became a better environmentalist.”

To read Lynas’ entire speech, click here.

Lynas admits that the environmental activists are essentially against the advancement of science. One particular statement sums up his re-evaluation of the anti-GM movement.

“This was also explicitly an anti-science movement. We employed a lot of imagery about scientists in their labs cackling demonically as they tinkered with the very building blocks of life. Hence the Frankenstein food tag – this absolutely was about deep-seated fears of scientific powers being used secretly for unnatural ends. What we didn’t realize at the time was that the real Frankenstein’s monster was not GM technology, but our reaction against it.”

Lynas likened the anti-science movement to those who deny climate change. He now realizes that the world needs to take advantage of all of the technology available, including GMOs, to feed the rapidly expanding world population. He stressed that there is no logical reason to prefer old ways of producing food.

He also squarely lays the blame on anti-GMO activists and policymakers for why big companies dominate the industry. In order to get their products approved and licensed, they need to be large corporations that can afford to go jump through the regulatory hoops and anti-propaganda. With large corporations dominating, there is little to no room for smaller start-up companies to enter the field.

It is likely that now that Lynas has changed his views, the anti-GMO community will shun him and not reflect on their decisions or viewpoints as he has done.


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Don Heller    
Stamford, TX  |  January, 07, 2013 at 09:10 AM

Take a look at the speech he gave. The link above will take you to it. He gives good insight to how the anti GMO crowd works. When science is allowed to work progress is made into the fears this group has. We as an industry need to keep somehow teaching good science in the face of fear. We have to be determind to educate those who will listen. The lives of too many people hang in the balance not to do this!

M.Petersen    
Colorado  |  January, 08, 2013 at 08:47 AM

Bullseye! As scientists we must be diligent to communicate the methods of advancing how we develop products to combat diseases, destructive or parasitic microorganisms, ever invasive weed species, and too insects left to their own can overwhelm and destroy crops. It is our drive to inform the public that food does not come out of the back room of the grocery stores also. Here in the States farmers are very open to new technology giving them gains with scientific advances to even now have a leg up on drought. Working in agriculture all my adult career of 40 years+, I know that we are not able to grow enough food to feed the world without scientific gains. There are not enough laborers across the globe that are willing even for good pay to grab a hoe and spend an entire day in the field weeding, here in the States that is incredibly evident. So we have herbicides to assist!


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