Genetically-Modified Foods: Is The Debate Over?
A leading European environmentalist, Mark Lynas, has apologized to the scientific community. He says he was wrong. After working for years to discredit the work of scientists responsible for genetically-engineered plants and being a contributor to the anti-GM movement, he has come to the conclusion that, "I was completely wrong to oppose GMOs." Why the change? He says, "I discovered science."
He said that he believes that "technological options can and should be used to benefit the environment. As an environmentalist and someone who believes that everyone in this world has a right to a healthy, nutritious diet of their choosing, I could not have chosen a more counterproductive path" than working against GM technology.
At Best Food Facts, we've discussed the topic of genetically-modified crops and GM foods on several occasions because our readers have submitted many questions about the subject. These questions align well with several assumptions Mr. Lynas had prior to jumping into the scientific process. Here are those assumptions, per his recent presentation at Oxford University.
"I’d assumed that it would increase the use of chemicals. It turned out that pest-resistant cotton and maize needed less insecticide."
We've asked several experts about environmental impacts:
"I’d assumed that GM benefited only the big companies. It turned out that billions of dollars of benefits were accruing to farmers needing fewer inputs.
"I’d assumed that Terminator Technology was robbing farmers of the right to save seed. It turned out that hybrids did that long ago, and that Terminator never happened.
"I’d assumed that no-one wanted GM. Actually what happened was that Bt cotton was pirated into India and roundup ready soya into Brazil because farmers were so eager to use them.
"I’d assumed that GM was dangerous. It turned out that it was safer and more precise than conventional breeding using mutagenesis for example; GM just moves a couple of genes, whereas conventional breeding mucks about with the entire genome in a trial and error way.But what about mixing genes between unrelated species? The fish and the tomato? Turns out viruses do that all the time, as do plants and insects and even us – it’s called gene flow."
We've asked several experts whether we should really be eating GM foods:
Mr. Lynas ends his speech by saying, "My message to the anti-GM lobby, from the ranks of the British aristocrats and celebrity chefs to the US foodies to the peasant groups of India is this: You are entitled to your views. But you must know by now that they are not supported by science. We are coming to a crunch point, and for the sake of both people and the planet, now is the time for you to get out of the way and let the rest of us get on with feeding the world sustainably."
We're interested in your opinion. After watching or reading Mark's speech, how do you feel about genetically modified foods?
Poll Question: After seeing environmentalist Mark Lynas change his position to now support genetic modification of crops, does that change your opinion?