Mark Lynas Lecture on GMOs

Mark Lynas, an environmentalist gave a public lecture at the Oxford Farming Conference on his apology to scientists about his previous opposition to the production of genetically-modified organisms in agricultural biotechnology as well as for facilitating the ban of GM in Europe. In his speech, he exclaimed why his earlier claims and beliefs were bred from a place of ignorance, with no scientifical reasoning behind his opinion that GMOs were unnatural and wrong. Lynas originally assumed that Monsanto’s GM soybeans, the first product of genetic engineering introduced to the market in 1996 was an act of humankind acquiring too much technological power, but slowly he began to believe this form of anti-environmentalism did not coincide with his opinions of pro-science environmentalism when it came to the conflicts of climate change. He began to educate himself on the positive qualities of GMOs. It turned out that it was safer and more precise than conventional breeding using mutagenesis because it just switched around a couple of genes whereas conventional breeding manipulates an entire genome. He used another example with the mixing of genes between unrelated species, the fish and the tomato, but viruses do that naturally during the process of gene-flow in plants, animals, and even insects. This concludes that this form of biotechnology may actually be a sustainable option for the incoming population that is currently estimated at over 9.5 billion people by the year 2050. According to Lynas, the planet is going to have to sustain feeding this amount of people on the same area of landmass that is used for farming today while also using limited water, pesticides, and fertilizer, with the context of climate change as well. I was definitely enlightened by learning that genetically modified organisms are not dangerous or unethical. According to Lynas, it’s crucial that we use this important production to feed future generations.

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