In writing about the pro-biotech speech by British environmental activist Mark Lynas, during which he publicly apologized for years of anti-biotech activities, Canadian commentator Margaret Wente says the tremendous stir it caused may mark a turning of the tide of public opinion.
“People are hungry to hear from a new generation of environmental moderates who value science and pragmatism over ideology and absolutes,” Wente wrote in her column in The Globe and Mail, Canada’s largest national newspaper. “They want to hear from those like Mr. Lynas, who think technology can be a force for good, and want to find practical approaches to environmental problems.”
Lynas himself sees a shift in opinion, Ms. Wente wrote, quoting him from an interview.
“Something has moved in the terms of this debate,” she quoted Lynas as saying. “It’s like the cresting of a wave. It’s as if everyone has simultaneously realized that the anti-GM movement doesn’t actually have anything backing it up,” he said.
Ms. Wente wrote that her own opinion is: “In the teeth of all the evidence, there’s simply no argument - moral, economic, scientific, political or any other kind - for opposing agricultural biotechnology…The fight against biotech is, at root, a contest between the aesthetic preferences of the developed world’s urban elites and people in India and Africa who don’t have enough to eat.”
Lynas, she wrote, felt a moral responsibility for his years of anti-biotech activities, which included tearing up test plots in Britain.
“That’s why Mr. Lynas went public, as loudly and eloquently as he could,” she wrote. She quoted him as saying: “I’ve felt a strong burden of moral responsibility for having effectively told an enormous lie for many years,” he told me. “I was pushed by my own conscience.” Read more.