A Huge Step Forward for Environmentalism: GMOs Are Not the Enemy

Today at the Oxford Farming Conference, outspoken environmental advocate Mark Lynas publicly apologized for his anti-GMO stance over nearly two decades. Lynas is best known for spearheading anti-GMO campaigns in the UK during the 1990s, which led to a great deal of unfounded hysteria over the possible ill effects of GMO crops on consumers and the environment. Now, Lynas says he's sorry for what he did, and that he's "discovered science" and become "a better environmentalist."

Slate's Torie Bosch calls attention to his opening remarks at the conference, which are not yet available in video format:

I want to start with some apologies. 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 demonising an important technological option which can be used to benefit the environment.

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.

This marks a great day for environmental leadership. Scientists who are growing more sustainable, healthier crops through genetic engineering should be working hand in hand with environmentalists. Both scientists and conservationists will be better for it.

Read Lynas' full speech on his website.