As I mentioned previously, I was fortunate to have the opportunity to travel to St. Louis last week to meet a few people that I admire greatly. Today, I’m going to tell you about Mark Lynas, a former anti-GMO activist, and the information that he shared at the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center. (Check out the whole presentation here!)
Mr. Lynas started out with a humble statement that it was hard for him to believe that an apology could make someone skyrocket to fame. Yet, he sincerely was sorry for the destruction and set-backs he may have caused by standing in the way of authentic scientific research by destroying biotech-research sites.
He wasn’t proud of what he had done…but what troubled him the most was the fact that he was so willing to buy into what the other activist groups were selling. It was concerning to realize that he would ignore the science behind biotechnology.
Lynas grew up determined to see a more equal world. Poverty is a terrible thing to witness, an even more terrible thing to stare in the face. Trust me, once you’ve lived with hunger…true hunger…you’ll never forget that feeling. Ever. And I do have to agree with him that we have seen great progress in our time in the reduction of poverty across the globe. Yet, I do believe we can all agree that we have a lot more work to do.
As Lynas said during his presentation, “I knew how everyone else should live their lives.”
Isn’t that the truth? Isn’t it so much easier to determine what everyone else should be doing? And how difficult is it to admit that our preconceived notions may be incorrect? That what we’ve determined to be our “truth,” may be anything but?
Lynas now works mainly behind the scenes, to help in the battle for food security. He knows that scientists need to start standing up and speaking for themselves. We cannot continue to dismiss science or destroy tests before the research is completed.
Does that mean that we should jump into biotechnology and genetically modified crops without hesitation or questions? Definitely not. Caution is always prudent, and surely mistakes will be made along the way, but we cannot keep looking back, we need to move forward to provide for our growing population.
“Being anti-science is being anti-humanitarianism.”
So where does this leave us? Do people have the right to know what’s in their food?
Of course. Questions will always be present, and people who make purchases have the right to determine what they want to buy. But as Lynas remarked, “On the other hand, we can’t stamp a skull and crossbones on every label.” And those at the market shelves should be well-aware that places such as Whole Foods are making a great living by thriving on the fear surrounding GMO foods. In fact, it’s one of the most successful marketing ploys today.
Overall, the few hours that I was able to meet Mark Lynas and take in his presentation will go down as one of the most memorable mornings of my life (right after the birth’s of my four boys!).
How do I sum up my whole experience? Well, I believe that I can quote Lynas directly on this one:
“You don’t stop learning when you leave school.”
I know that not all of my readers agree with me on the biotechnology issue, and that’s quite all right by me. But please, if you choose to leave a comment, keep it positive and offer solutions, not just blame the establishment for your lot in life and threaten my farm or family. In the near future, I will tackle the religious side to the biotechnology argument. And it may or may not surprise you! Thanks for reading, and come back soon!
I don’t have a definite opinion either way on GMOs because I really don’t know enough about the science behind them. One of my questions has been concerning the monopolies of only a few companies who have the seeds and what options farmers really have. How is that question addressed? I’m not being negative. I’m trying to get answers. Farming is so different now than it was when I grew up on a farm, that I feel ignorant indeed.
Great questions, Elaine! Let me do my best to answer a few of them:
1) Farmers have tons of options, and there are several companies that carry similar types of seeds, etc. We aren’t forced to plant certain types of seeds, and no one tells us what to plant. The only catch is that there are certain types of seeds that we purchase, and we sign an agreement that specifically states that if we use this seed, we will not save the seeds to plant another year. We know that up front. The agreement is very specific, and its our choice whether or not to purchase the seed. There are plenty of other options. (We even receive a catalog every year, that specifically lists sources of seed that are non-GMO.)
2) The plant research and technologies that I was able to hear about and view when down in St. Louis are actually being progressed through public means, not private companies…a first. The reason for it? It takes a long time and a lot of push to get public funds for research. I think we all know that. Plus, public dollars are a ebb-and-flow thing. It’s never a guarantee, whereas private funding can move a lot faster and does not change every election cycle. Imagine if you were on the verge of a big breakthrough, and all of your hard work is wiped out due to a newly elected official?
Again, I’m not at all saying that no one should question the safety of GMO’s. I’m just saying that I don’t question it. But that’s another post in and of itself!
You’re right. Farming is different. And now we also need to take into consideration all of the questions that our customers may have regarding how we farm, why we make the decisions we do and what impact they should have on our operation. It’s very complicated indeed.
Thanks for the questions, I hope I answered them somewhat. And if you have any more, I’d be more than happy to find the answers you’re looking for!
Thanks! I feel better now. You are right that farming is complicated. It takes extremely intelligent, well-informed people to run successful farms. And, even though I’m a “town girl” I am still a country girl at heart and like to be informed.
It’s a brave thing to admit you’re wrong. Especially to do so in such a public manner. I can’t help but respect Lynas for doing this.