|Image from here|
In a surprising turn of events, Mark Lynas, a former campaigner against genetically modified foods has completely reversed his views on the topic at a conference in Oxford and has now given genetically modified food his stamp of approval. Earlier in his career, Mark Lynas, reportedly played a key role in the anti-GM campaign in both Europe and India, where GM food remains banned due to poor public confidence in the safety of the food. Lynas appears to have been one of the more radical anti-GM campaigners and somebody who never shied away from throwing pies at people like Bjorn Lomborg. Even when he recanted his opposition against GM foods he didn’t do so at a cocktail party or tea party but in a speech before an audience at the Oxford Farming Conference.
The video of his speech and the entire text of the speech can be accessed over here. Here’s a sampler, with the first paragraph “For the record, here and upfront, I apologize 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 demonizing 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.”
This article on the NYT website is also a must read.
I can only imagine the guts that it must have taken for this man to stand before a crowd of people and publicly recant his views.
The Indian Express carried an interesting interview (available here) with Lynas on the reversal of his views on GMOs which have been an incredibly controversial topic in India were anti-GM campaigners have been successful in blocking all efforts by companies like Monsanto to introduce GM foods in the Indian market. The Express interview quotes Lynas as stating “Indian anti-GM activism is based on widely believed myths and popular misconceptions and conspiracy theories, promoted by political activists like Vandana Shiva, who find anti-GM a convenient banner to organise their reactionary campaigns against modern technology and capitalism in general”.
When asked for a comment by IE, Shiva had this to state “This fellow does not even know science,” an angry Shiva shot back. “I am a PhD in quantum theory. All that he is saying now is like being another spokesperson of corporates like Monsanto. The United Nations would not have created a UN protocol on biosafety if there were no issues related to GMOs (genetically modified organisms). He cannot accuse the UN of working on myths.” Mincing no words, Shiva added: “I, in fact, have got recognition for drafting related frameworks at the global level. He, it seems, has the recognition of corporations that are paying him.” Well, I don’t think anybody was expecting Shiva to embrace the chap but to accuse him of being a paid hack seems a bit unfair.