All posts by Alexandra

Mark Lynas Shift in Views on GMOs

At the 2013 Oxford Farming Conference, Mark Lynas, author of High Tide, Six Degrees, and The God Species publicly changed his stance on Genetically Modified Organisms. This was quite a shift in views, as he had previously worked on several Greenpeace campaigns, including a global campaign against GMO crops, which was successfully caused many European, Asian, and African countries to ban GM crops. At the time, GMOs were seen as a taboo form of dementing nature in a laboratory, acquiring the name FrankenFoods.

However, in 2013, Mark Lynas no longer believed this. He states that science changed his mind. Lynas notes that before his third book, The God Species, that he hadn’t done any academic research on the topic at all. He even openly admits that Greenpeace’s successful campaign against GMOs was strictly based on emotion, rather than fact. It played up the idea of scientists using their technological power to create the unnatural. Such imagery left a large negative impact on the agricultural industry, mostly which promotes the use and practicalities of GMOs.This anti-tech stance no longer applies to Mark Lynas.

Science changed his mind. Mark Lynas goes on it his well written and thoroughly explained speech that not only do GMOs provide more accuracy and precision to farming, keeping costs low for producer and consumers alike, as well as higher yields, reduced use of pesticides, and the transfer of only necessary genes from one crop to another in fewer steps (it’s not trial and error, as conventional breeding usually is). He then goes on to state that GMOs are the only practical way to continue to feed the growing population on the limited amount of land we have with the limited amount resources we currently have available. Using GMO crops would be the most responsible way to continue to feed the globe as it minimizes environmental impact while maximizing crop yield, nutrition, and quality of life.

Mark Lynas then reminds his audience that diversity in the agricultural industry is good, but that organic farming is less effective and less than safe than previously believed. He essentially shames the anti-tech movement for trying to destroy GM technology before even fully understanding it, citing Greenpeace’s destruction of a GM wheat crop in Australia that later when on to increase yield by 30%, as well as Greenpeace’s slander of Golden Rice in Asia, ultimately preventing poor vitamin deficient areas from receiving the nutrition they need to survive. Mark Lynas also makes sure to address the environmentalists against GMOs, stating that there wouldn’t be an Amazon Rainforest, or various other threatened/endangered animals because those habitats would be destroyed for increased farmland.

I fully support this revision in stance made by Mark Lynas. Investigation into the science behind Genetically Modified Organism disproves many, if all, myths and concerns about GMOs. The problem is that people are too busy or do not care to do educate themselves on GMOs, so they listen to what mass media informs them on such topics, many of which are untrue because the media itself thrives on emotion, rather than scientific evidence in many cases similar to this. The only way to stop this cycle is for important public figures, like Mark Lynas, to open up about the truths of GMOs and change the perception of GMOs in the media. Maybe then GMOs will stand a chance.