British author and environmental activist Mark Lynas has publicly apologized for his past role in “demonizing” genetically modified crops, saying that he has come to realize that they are safe to eat and are essential to feeding a growing world population.
“For the record, here and upfront, I apologize for having spent several years ripping up GM crops,” Lynas told the Oxford Farming Conference in England Thursday. “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.” Text and video of his presentation are available here.
Lynas is the author of “The God Species: Saving the Planet in the Age of Humans” (published by National Geographic) and other books on environmental challenges.
“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,” Lynas said of his participation in attacks on GM test plots, a common feature of British anti-GM activism. “I now regret it completely.”
Lynas said he educated himself on science as part of his study of climate change and came to realize that the arguments against GM crops are mainly “green urban myths.”
“I’d assumed that GM was dangerous. It turned out that it was safer and more precise than conventional breeding,” Lynas said.
“The GM debate is over,” he said. “It is finished. We no longer need to discuss whether or not it is safe - over a decade and a half with three trillion GM meals eaten there has never been a single substantiated case of harm. You are more likely to get hit by an asteroid than to get hurt by GM food.”
“So my message to the anti-GM lobby, from the ranks of the British aristocrats and celebrity chefs to the US foodies to the peasant groups of India, is this,” he said. “You are entitled to your views. But you must know by now that they are not supported by science. We are coming to a crunch point, and for the sake of both people and the planet, now is the time for you to get out of the way and let the rest of us get on with feeding the world sustainably.”