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Counting The Cost of the Anti-GMO Movement

Last week, environmentalist Mark Lynas presented an articulate and painfully honest apology for his significant role in starting the anti-GMO movement in the 1990s.  He said that it was the most successful campaign in which he has ever been involved, but after finally looking into the science, he now deeply regrets what he and others accomplished.  While it is gratifying to have a figure like Lynas make such a turn-about, it does nothing to mitigate the damage of which this anti-science movement has perpetrated on humanity and the environment.  Ideally, such a dramatic reversal will induce others in the movement to rethink their positions. but this sort of openness to letting the science speak into bias is likely to be rare. Lynas is right that anti-GMO campaigners have been extremely successful at blocking, delaying, or destroying potential crop improvements via biotechnology.  Lynas had a lot of ground to cover in his speech, so

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Mark Lynas’s Oxford Farming Conference Speech

Years ago, environmental activist and author Mark Lynas campaigned against genetically engineered crops, sometimes ripping them up with his own hands. But in a speech given at the 2013 Oxford Farming Conference on January 3rd, he apologized for these actions, and explained how his opinion has changed over time and has been turned completely around. This speech, the transcript of which you can find on his site, has been heard around the world. It has sparked many discussions in the news media, and in social media as well. He explains that part of his journey from being an anti-GE activist to proponent of the technology is that along the way, he “discovered science.” Perhaps more than that, his environmentally-based values may have steered his beliefs to a different path once the science was made clear. If you haven’t seen it yet, it will be an hour well-spent. 07 Mark Lynas

Greenpeace activists Jessica Latona and Heather McCabe leaving the ACT Supreme Court at an earlier hearing. Photo by Rohan Thomson, Canberra Times.

Verdict on Greenpeace’s CSIRO Vandalism

Two convictions and a hefty fine bring a close to a case of Greenpeace destroying a plot of experimental genetically engineered wheat, but whether this will be the last of such incidents is unclear. Last year, Greenpeace planned and executed a public relations campaign to go after genetically engineered wheat being developed by CSIRO in Australia. The wheat was developed to have an altered starch composition, making it slower to digest and release sugars into the body, and thus lower in its glycemic index. The project was headed toward human efficacy testing, having already been evaluated in mice. Greenpeace hoped to draw attention to the project and shut it down. They filed a freedom-of-information request, which was turned down. They drafted a letter from scientists objecting to the experiment, but it was plagiarized from another source and had few signatories. Greenpeace also put together a brochure that claimed that the