Wow

This is one of the more amazing things I have read of late.  Environmentalist recants his opposition to GMOs.  Good, I hope Greenpeace is listening and will reconsider its absurd and destructive opposition to golden rice.

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.

So I guess you’ll be wondering – what happened between 1995 and now that made me not only change my mind but come here and admit it? Well, the answer is fairly simple: I discovered science, and in the process I hope I became a better environmentalist....

So I did some reading. And I discovered that one by one my cherished beliefs about GM turned out to be little more than green urban myths.

I’d assumed that it would increase the use of chemicals. It turned out that pest-resistant cotton and maize needed less insecticide.

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.

Bravo Mr Lynas.  It is hard to admit one was wrong.  It is even harder, though, for a man like Lynas to declare himself on the "wrong" side of a "progressive" issue like this.  He has now likely put himself into a category along with black Republicans who will incur special wrath and disdain from progressives.

Speaking of the need for a little science in the environmental movement, I was channel surfing over Bill Moyer's show yesterday on PBS (actually I was navigating to our local PBS station to  make sure Downton Abbey was set to record later in the day) when I heard Moyer whip out a stat that even with a carbon tax, the world will warm over 6 degrees this century.  Now, I don't know if he was talking in degrees F or C, but in either case, a 6 degree number far outstrips the climate sensitivity numbers used even by the IPCC, which many of us skeptics believe has exaggerated warming estimates.  It is constantly frustrating to be treated as an enemy of science by those who display such a casual contempt for it, while at the same time fetishizing it.

  • Reformed Republican

    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.

    I have always wondered why people thought targeted mutation would be more dangerous than random genetic changes obtained through breeding. I always thought it was one of the worst arguments against GM.

  • LarryGross

    so the guy decided the science was correct after all? holy moly! this sounds pretty dangerous ... it could SPREAD and jump into the right wing side also! gazooks!

  • wobbly

    "I’d assumed that it would increase the use of chemicals. It turned out that pest-resistant cotton and maize needed less insecticide."

    He says some smart things, but there's also sleight-of-hand here. The common Roundup Ready plants are wedded to using Roundup rather than mechanical methods, but he doesn't mention those and talks about a specific couple of pest-resistant plants.

    Similarly for seed saving. Copyrighted seeds can't be saved no matter who he blames.

    It's a similar sort of illlogic to that of the environmentalists, but now he's spinning for the other side.

  • Eris Guy

    Environmentalists have heard of science? Gaia forbid! When you leave the truth faith, all things are possible, even science.

  • obloodyhell

    }}} along with black Republicans who will incur special wrath and disdain from progressives.

    Indeed, look at all the commenters below the piece -- an amazing number of people claiming all sorts of everything but: "You mean... we might be wrong!?!?!?"

  • obloodyhell

    I dunno, I think accepting TARP monies was one of the best arguments against GM.
    :o D