If you fear genetically modified food, you may have Mark Lynas to thank.
Recently i was having another one of my online debates with some conspiracists regarding genetically modified foods. In the course of my discussion i remembered the story of Mark Lynas, a former anti-GMO environmentalist who recently reversed his position and is now on a mission to expose the anti-GMO conspiracists.
March 9, 2013 – Mark Lynas spent years destroying genetically modified crops in the name of the environment. Now he’s told the world – and his fellow activists – that he was wrong.[. . .]
Back in the mid-90s he’d belonged to a “radical cell” of the anarchist, anti-capitalist environmental movement. He was influential – a co-founder of the magazine Corporate Watch who’d written the first article about the evils of Genetically Modified Organisms [GMOs] and Monsanto, the multinational biotech company whose work with GMOs was to become notorious. He was a law breaker. He’d pile into vans with gangs of up to 30 people and spend nights slashing GM crops with machetes. (source)
What makes this story so compelling is, Mark Lynas is by no means a lightweight in the arena of environmental activism. As the following article states, “Thanks to the efforts of Lynas and people like him, governments around the world—especially in Western Europe, Asia, and Africa—have hobbled GM research . . .”
So, I wanted to highlight the Mark Lynas story in my online debate and ask the conspiracists “what about Mark Lynas?”
But when i did a search here on my own blog, i couldn’t find the story! Apparently, i forgot to post this story back in January (2013) when it first came to my attention. Whoops.
Believe me, if you want to see anti-GMO conspiracists frothing at the mouth, ask them about Mark Lynas.
If you fear genetically modified food, you may have Mark Lynas to thank. By his own reckoning, British environmentalist helped spur the anti-GMO movement in the mid-‘90s, arguing as recently at 2008 that big corporations’ selfish greed would threaten the health of both people and the Earth. Thanks to the efforts of Lynas and people like him, governments around the world—especially in Western Europe, Asia, and Africa—have hobbled GM research, and NGOs like Greenpeace have spurned donations of genetically modified foods.
But Lynas has changed his mind—and he’s not being quiet about it. On [January 3, 2013] at the Oxford Farming Conference, Lynas delivered a blunt address: He got GMOs wrong.
His honest assessment of his heretofore poor understanding of the issue continues for almost 5,000 words—and it’s a must-[listen] for anyone who has ever hesitated over conventional produce. To vilify GMOs is to be as anti-science as climate-change deniers, he says. To feed a growing world population (with an exploding middle class demanding more and better-quality food), we must take advantage of all the technology available to us, including GMOs. To insist on “natural” agriculture and livestock is to doom people to starvation, and there’s no logical reason to prefer the old ways, either. Moreover, the reason why big companies dominate the industry is that anti-GMO activists and policymakers have made it too difficult for small startups to enter the field.
“In the history of #environmentalism, has there ever been a bigger mea culpa than that given here?” Discover blogger Keith Kloor tweeted. (Kloor recently called GMO foes “the climate skeptics of the left” in Slate.)
I can’t think of another environmentalist.
Mark Lynas speech hosted by the International Programs – College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (50th Anniversary Celebration) , and the Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future, Cornell University
MORE . . .
- Mark Lynas (Wikipedia)
- Mark Lynas: truth, treachery and GM food (The Observer)
- Mark Lynas, environmentalist who opposed GMOs, admits he was wrong. (cuene.com)
- Nature’s Must-Read Special Issue on GMOs (blogs.discovermagazine.com)
- The Positive Impact of Biotechnology on the Sustainability of the Agricultural and Food Industry (catalyzingillinois.com)