Mark Lynas

Mark Lynas: truth, treachery and GM food

Mark LynasOn the morning of 3 January 2013, Mark Lynas, raving eco-warrior, made a dramatic speech to the Oxford Farmers’ Conference, standing in front of the people who were once his enemy, and confessing he was wrong.

Back in the mid-90s he’d belonged to a “radical cell” of the anarchist, anti-capitalist environmental movement. He was influential – a co-founder of the magazine Corporate Watch who’d written the first article about the evils of Genetically Modified Organisms [GMOs] and Monsanto, the multinational biotech company whose work with GMOs was to become notorious.

He was a law breaker. He’d pile into vans with gangs of up to 30 people and spend nights slashing GM crops with machetes. He was angry. He believed that the kind of people who’d attend the Oxford Farming Conference were ruining the world with greed.

And now he was preparing to stand under spotlights and bow his head before them. He’d been nervous about it for days. He was scared that by the time his speech was over he wouldn’t have any friends left at all.

Once the crowd’s mannered applause had died down, he began.

“My lords, ladies and gentlemen. I want to start with some apologies, which I believe are most appropriate to this audience. For the record, here and upfront, I apologise for having spent several years ripping up GM crops. I’m also sorry that I helped to start the anti-GM movement back in the mid-1990s and that I thereby assisted in demonising an important technological option which can be used to benefit the environment. As an environmentalist, and someone who believes that everyone in this world has a right to a healthy and nutritious diet of their choosing, I could not have chosen a more counter-productive path. I now regret it completely.”

Fifty minutes later, the audience reacted with what he describes as “shocked applause”.

His website, on which he’d posted the text of his speech, crashed, unable to cope with the demand. He watched, on Twitter, as reaction spread around the world: Portugal, Spain, Chile, Argentina… Millions, he thinks, have now seen it.

“It was a complete demolition, not just of anti-GMO but of the whole organic thing,” he says. “For a lot of people, it was an ‘Oh fuck’ moment. They realised they’d been lied to, at a very profound level, by the very people they’d trusted.” And what of his worst fear, that he wouldn’t have any friends left at all? “Well,” he smiles sadly. “That’s probably what happened.”…..

The Guardian: Read the full article

Additional reading:

GM foods: Poacher turned gamekeeper