Mark Lynas – 2013 Oxford Farming Conference

I once heard a quote from an anonymous source that said, “to admit that you were wrong is to declare that you are now wiser than you were before.” This holds especially true for Mark Lynas, an environmental activist who focuses on the impacts of climate change as well as GMOs, or Genetically Modified Organisms. For many years, Lynas was anti-GMO – he believed it was against nature, assumed it would increase the use of chemicals, that it would only benefit large companies, and various other so-called “green urban myths.” But in 2013 at the Oxford Farming Conference, Lynas himself admitted that he was wrong in his beliefs. When it came to climate change, he would use science as evidence to prove that it did indeed exist, though when it came to GMOs he followed his personal beliefs. After doing thorough research, Lynas came to his own conclusion which was entirely different from the point of view he had only 5 years before. He shared that he once believed that genetic modification would increase the use of chemicals, and later learned that genetic modification could increase resistance to pests and disease, therefore reducing the use of chemicals; he believed that GM was only beneficial to big businesses, while in actuality billions of dollars of benefits were accruing to farmers needing fewer inputs; Lynas assumed that GM was dangerous, and later learned that it was much safer and significantly more precise that conventional breeding.

Through analyzing his beliefs, doing his own research from trustworthy/science-based sources, and admitting to the public at one of the largest agriculture-based conferences in the world that his beliefs were wrong, Lynas seems to have set a precedent that more people should follow. That being: do not be afraid to admit that you may not be knowledgeable about a specific topic. It is never too late to stop learning, and by doing so you can come to a more accurate conclusion regarding the topic at hand – regardless of whether or not your opinion on the matter changes. In my opinion, it takes a strong individual to stand up for their beliefs; it takes an even stronger individual to change their beliefs when faced with new found information.



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