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.”
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