Biotech Updates

Environmental Activist Apologizes for his Anti-biotech Role

January 9, 2013

In his lecture at the Oxford Farming Conference on January 3, 2013, British environmental campaigner and author Mark Lynas made a stunning introduction – a public apology for his active participation in the anti-biotech movement back in the mid 1990s fueled by "anti-science environmentalism". Lynas acknowledged his past role in demonizing genetically modified (GM) crops which he now accepts as a very important technological option that can benefit humanity and the environment.

According to Lynas' own account, his dramatic turn around was a result of an effort to reform himself on science as he studied the phenomenon of climate change. With further reading and deeper study, he realized that his cherished beliefs about biotechnology "turned out to be little more than green urban myths." In his OFC discourse, he presented his arguments in support of agri-biotechnology as he addressed the issues being raised by opponents who seek to discredit this important scientific innovation. He concluded that the sensational campaign against the use and cultivation of biotech crops is largely not based on science.

"Thus desperately needed agricultural innovation is being strangled by a suffocating avalanche of regulations which are not based on any rational scientific assessment of risk," he said. "The risk today is not that anyone will be harmed by GM food, but that millions will be harmed by not having enough food, because a vocal minority of people in rich countries want their meals to be what they consider natural...The GM debate is over. It is finished. We no longer need to discuss whether or not it is safe - over a decade and a half with three trillion GM meals eaten, there has never been a single substantiated case of harm. You are more likely to get hit by an asteroid than to get hurt by GM food."

Lynas has authored "The God Species: Saving the Planet in the Age of Humans" (published by National Geographic) and other environmental books. The full text of his OFC lecture is available at: