Perhaps nothing is more telling about one’s intellect and character than changing one’s mind.
After all, changing your mind about something suggests you have given it thought and that maybe, just maybe, your first thoughts were incorrect.
Mark Lynas has given a lot of thought to genetically modified (GMO) corn. And he’s changed his mind.
Lynas, author of three books, including Six Degrees: Our Future on a Hotter Planet, is generally recognized as one of the founders of the anti-GMO movement in the mid-1990s and a vocal critic of GM technology. He now says he was wrong.
Last week at the Oxford Farming Conference in the United Kingdom, Lynas delivered remarks that began with an astonishing apology.
“For the record, here and upfront, I apologise for having spent several years ripping up GM crops. I am also sorry that I helped to start the anti-GM movement back in the mid-1990s, and that I thereby assisted in demonizing an important technological option which can be used to benefit the environment,” Lynas said.
“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 all 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.”
That’s a startling admission from one who is at least partially responsible for many countries either banning or squelching GMO production and research. Unfortunately, the backlash against Lynas has been predictable. His website was crashed with comments from around the globe, mostly from critics. In short, he went from a founding father of the anti-GMO movement to a Benedict Arnold.
But that’s just a knee-jerk reaction from those who fail to read beyond the headlines of Lynas' apology. Certainly no one with Lynas' credentials and commitment to a cause as important as environmental activism would make such a reversal in ideology without careful consideration. Indeed, Lynas’ mind was changed by studying the facts about GMO and accepting the science. Here’s what he said:
“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.