Mark Lynas � Lecture to Oxford Farming Conference, 3 January 2013: 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.One of the founders of the anti-GM movement issues a massive mea-culpa. Fifteen years late, but hey, it's a start.
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.
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.
Many of his themes are familiar to my readers - I've been saying it for years. Nice to have some serious backup for a change.
(Note to Facebook friends, current and former: I was right about this and the majority of you are still wrong. I'd appreciate some recognition here.)