The founding father of the anti-GMO movement reversed his opinions because science

Mark Lynas gained fame for his environmental advocacy, and was also known for his fight against GMOs in food, practically founding the movement with a series of both academic and popular science articles.

Mark Lynas gained fame for his environmental advocacy, especially his book “Six Degrees: Our Life for a Hotter Planet.” Lynas was also known for his fight against genetically modified organisms in food, practically founding the movement with a series of both academic and popular science articles.

Lynas recently announced that he has changed his position on GMOs. Lynas, a fellow at Cornell University’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, revealed that his change in opinion was not inspired by peers, but by internet trolls, who harshly commented on an article he wrote for The Guardian.

“I was enjoying being celebrated as a trusted scientific authority. And the comments under my anti-GMO article said, ‘This guy doesn’t know what the hell he’s talking about. He’s clearly not familiar with the science on the issue.’ That wounded me,” said Lynas. “So, I actually learned something from Internet comments. I realized that I had to shut up. Then I had to educate myself and start right back to basics.”

Inspired by the trolls, Lynas conducted new research and learned about the real motives of GMO producers. With the world population expected to reach 9.6 billion by 2050, Lynas realized that it would be nearly impossible to feed the world without using technology. He called his previous anti-GMO views “quaint and idealistic,” and blamed it on his youthful optimism.

Lynas was growing disillusioned by the anti-GMO movement a decade before his reversal, realizing that anti-GMO advocates were often close-minded and shut out new information that challenged their beliefs. Now, Lynas is reviled by the online anti-GMO movement for being a traitor to their cause.

In 2013, Lynas revealed his reversal to a shocked crowd at the Oxford Farming Conference. According to his account, the crowd reacted with stunned applause.

“It was a complete demolition, not just of anti-GMO but of the whole organic thing,” Lynas said to The Guardian. “For a lot of people, it was an ‘Oh f***’ moment. They realized they’d been lied to, at a very profound level, by the very people they’d trusted.”

Featured image via Flickr

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  1. John Baker

    December 27, 2015 at 4:10 pm

    Lynas is far from the only so-called “expert” who really didn’t have a clue what he was talking about. Sometime, as I don’t doubt is the case with Lynas, intentions are good, but real knowledge is lacking. In other cases, the deception is deliberate. Either way, it’s doing people a disservice. Pointing out that the guy they’re trusting to keep them informed doesn’t actually know what he’s talking about isn’t trolling. It’s attempting to right a wrong.

  2. andrew

    December 27, 2015 at 8:08 pm

    If the point of this tech was to feed the hungry, then why no mention of the intellectual property rights and widespread theft committed by these corporations?

  3. Stephan Neidenbach

    December 28, 2015 at 8:14 am

    Because not all GMOs are patented and many nonGMOs are. Your concern is irrelevant to this topic.

  4. Chan

    December 28, 2015 at 8:28 am

    Because practical application and potential for benefit to the creator are not mutually exclusive things. If someone created a cure for cancer and charged through the nose for it, the point of their tech is both to save lives (function) and to benefit them (motive).
    Secondly, how much of this “widespread” property rights and theft is verifiable and not just rumours somebody made up. (This includes news articles citing other news articles citing random blogs on the internet) I’ve worked at both a University and in a mid-sized Coporation, and everyone with any aspiration to do anything inventive or innovative knows clearly where things stand in regards to IP laws, and let me tell you – people who sweat blood and tears for their achievements are pretty eager to learn how to protect themselves.

  5. Michael

    December 28, 2015 at 8:33 am

    Because that has nothing to do with the science of GMOs. That’s corporate issues to be argued separately.

  6. Joe Reil

    December 28, 2015 at 9:25 am

    Citation? I do know that every example of this I’ve seen about Monsanto specifically turns out to not be true, either an outright lie or a distortion of what actually happened.

  7. Fredrik

    December 28, 2015 at 9:48 am

    Andrew, because it’s not true. It just isn’t true.
    IPRs are a necessity for any corporation to do any R&D. The widely believed “theft” by biotech companies (I imagine you’re speaking of something in the lines of Monsanto suing a poor farmer because Monsanto patented genes spread by the wind) simply never happened. Look it up. See if you can find the origin of that story. And farmers chose GMO’s, because it increases yields, or decreases need for labor, or less fertilizer/pesticides/herbicides or all above.

    And no, I’m not payed off by the “GMO lobby”. I’m simply some Swedish guy on vacation in Thailand, doing the last nightly “internetting” before bed, who gets mad at reading stupidity thrown up by people who just wont accept that the SCIENTIFIC GODDAMNED CONSENSUS speaks against their anti biotech, organic religion.

  8. Mark T

    December 28, 2015 at 11:06 am

    Could you list a few examples of the ‘widespread theft’ please. From reputable sources.

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