What is in this article?:
- Environmentalist has change of heart about biotechnology
- Suffocating regulations
- Mark Lynas says his opinion on biotech crops was changed because he became familiar with scientific literature and realized he had never done any academic research on biotechnology – despite being a fervent opponent against it for years.
For years in this space I have trumpeted the advancement in the research and development of GM crops. Upon my employment at WPHA seven years ago I immediately was sent to visit with WPHA member companies engaged in developing this technology. There I witnessed the process and research involved in genetic engineering, and learned the harsh fact that these companies have to deal with; it takes almost 10 years and $185 million to get a new GMO product registered and sold. This is because of a stifling mountain of regulations and years of testing to prove the product is safe. Nonetheless, I quickly realized that plant biotechnology was the wave of agriculture’s future, and said so in this space. Apparently, Lynas has seen the same light and finally accepted the fact that “Frankenfoods” — as they are notoriously referred to by devoted environmentalists — are indeed an extra tool to feed a hungry world.
He told the Oxford audience that he saw a planet that would need to support 9.5 billion people by 2050 on the same land area as today. As population climbs and living standards also improve, he said, global food demand will expand to “well over 100 percent by mid-century.”
Pointing to the work of Norman Borlaug — the famous agronomist who developed high-yielding GMO grain varieties that improved production and relieved world hunger in the 1970s — Lynas said further intensified food production is now needed and GMOs play a pivotal role. He said opposition to biotechnology has slowed the development of new plant varieties and has ratcheted up the cost of innovation. He attacked opponents in many parts of Europe, Africa and Asia who have thrown roadblocks in the path of GMO progress.
“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. He added that the discussion about GMO foods being dangerous has been rendered obsolete, noting that 3 trillion GMO meals have been eaten over the past 15 years without a single substantiated case of harm. “You are more likely to get hit by an asteroid than to get hurt by GM food,” he said.
It is encouraging when environmental converts eventually see the light and come over to “science.” Most of today’s green groups are motivated by agendas of self-interest and parrot anti-biotech bromides without the slightest idea of what they are talking about. So when you see someone such as Lynas switch teams via empirical and scientific evidence, it is indeed a conversion to relish.
I’ll wrap this up with Lynas’ closing statement to the Oxford audience, an observation that is, as the English would say, “spot on.”
“So my message to the anti-GM lobby, from the ranks of the British aristocrats and celebrity chefs to the U.S. 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.”