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Anti-GMO Activist Recants

Soulskill posted about a year ago | from the thought-for-food dept.

Biotech 758

Freddybear writes "Former anti-GMO activist Mark Lynas, who opposed genetically modified food in the 1990s, said recently, at the Oxford Farming Conference: 'I want to start with some apologies. For the record, here and upfront, I apologize 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. 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.' To vilify GMOs is to be as anti-science as climate-change deniers, he says. To feed a growing world population (with an exploding middle class demanding more and better-quality food), we must take advantage of all the technology available to us, including GMOs. To insist on 'natural' agriculture and livestock is to doom people to starvation, and there’s no logical reason to prefer the old ways, either. Moreover, the reason why big companies dominate the industry is that anti-GMO activists and policymakers have made it too difficult for small startups to enter the field."

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758 comments

This is a rare breed of human. (5, Insightful)

Art Popp (29075) | about a year ago | (#42479915)

Kepler figured out he had it all wrong after a career spent trying to prove bad theories (Platonic model of the universe? Really?) ... and arguably launched the age of the scientific enlightenment.

I'm anxious read Mr. Lynas' coming works.

Re:This is a rare breed of human. (5, Insightful)

LateArthurDent (1403947) | about a year ago | (#42480143)

Kepler figured out he had it all wrong after a career spent trying to prove bad theories (Platonic model of the universe? Really?) ... and arguably launched the age of the scientific enlightenment.

I'm anxious read Mr. Lynas' coming works.

I don't have mod points today, so I'm just going to add to your sentiment. I have a great amount of respect for anyone that can look at the evidence they were wrong about a particular belief, and admit to their mistake. And it only gets harder to do so the longer that belief has been held, and the greater the audience you're admitting that mistake to. This guy is to be commended for a true commitment to the truth, not to ideology.

Re:This is a rare breed of human. (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42480197)

Platonic model of the universe? Really?

Really. How ridiculous was that. Everyone knows the model of the universe is purely sexual.

Re:This is a rare breed of human. (5, Insightful)

NeutronCowboy (896098) | about a year ago | (#42480231)

I don't know. The way I read it, he was first an anti-GMO crusader, and now he has become a pro-GMO crusader. Neither one I'm too fond of.

Genetic manipulation is a tool. It's neither good nor bad. There's all kinds of baggage associated with GMO (hi, Monsanto patents!), and some GM techniques I find highly questionable (plants that produce their own insecticide and which we're supposed to eat?). All are things that can make GMOs bad - but they are things that need to be considered in the context of creating GMOs, not as being a fundamental characteristic of GMOs.

I really wish that people would stop fighting over whether something is genetically modified, and focus on what the modification is, what its impact is on organisms consuming it, its impact on non-GMOs of the same family, and whether there are any patents on it that can escape into the wild (still waiting for someone to sue Gaia because she is copying stuff that someone has a patent on).

Unfortunately, I don't see too much discussion around this, and just a lot of yelling around GMO bad! GMO good!

Re:This is a rare breed of human. (4, Insightful)

poetmatt (793785) | about a year ago | (#42480475)

The problem is, GMO is not something easily identifiable. For people who are not that interested in the science involved it's fairly intangible. You can't really go out and say non organic apples! these must be monsanto! or Organic apples! These cannot be monsanto! Not to mention that governments dont tend to give a shit, outside of Europe.

Monsanto, patents aside, does horrible shit with GMO. It's not limited to their patents. So does Cargill, who happens to make all sorts of falsely claimed "healthy products". Unethical companies continue to perpetually do unethical things. That doesn't change.

So where's the answer? I don't see one. I don't even see a path towards meaningful dialogue given that the gov't is too busy allowing things like corn subsidies to give a shit about whether or not organic food has side effects, etc.

Re:This is a rare breed of human. (-1, Flamebait)

thePowerOfGrayskull (905905) | about a year ago | (#42480333)

Also, Monsanto paid top dollar for him to reconsider his opinions!

I'd like to believe he's telling the truth, but it's so rare - and he's now glossing over actual potential problems with GM foods, which is another flag.

Re:This is a rare breed of human. (1)

fatphil (181876) | about a year ago | (#42480577)

Just tonight I watched /Food Inc./ so it's very easy to be cynical, I agree.

To me he just comes over like a fickle and pollyannaish teenager. Half a decade ago his fashion was GMOs, but now his fashion is CO2. I look forward to see what he's campaigning against in 2017... (not!)

Re:This is a rare breed of human. (1)

fatphil (181876) | about a year ago | (#42480415)

Erm, he said roughly the same thing nearly 3 years ago; there's nothing particularly new about his recent comments. At least how they're summarised in the summary. ("How the greens keep getting it wrong", or some such, back in 2010.)

Re:This is a rare breed of human. (1)

tp1024 (2409684) | about a year ago | (#42480493)

It's not exactly about enlightenment, it is about the ideologies themselves. Every ideology needs a mechanism to stay coherent - if there is a group of people sharing thoughts without enforcing certain ideas and suppressing doubt, they simply won't have anything resembling what we call an ideology - because they all have different ideas and what we call an ideology is a group of people shareing the same kinds of ideas ...

I've tried to put together my thoughts on this elsewhere. [wordpress.com]

What exploding middle class? The one in China and (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42479977)

What exploding middle class? The one in China and maybe India? Everywhere else either middle class doesn't exist or is imploding like in the US and the rest of the western world.

Re:What exploding middle class? The one in China a (1)

clarkkent09 (1104833) | about a year ago | (#42480243)

The living standards have been getting better and still are, even in the western world. If you have some evidence to the contrary, I would like to see it. Oh you mean that the rich are getting richer so that makes you feel worse off in comparison even though you really are better off as well?

Re:What exploding middle class? The one in China a (2, Insightful)

RightSaidFred99 (874576) | about a year ago | (#42480331)

Exactly. To here these Occupy types blather you'd think the middle class is sleeping under a bridge.

The standard of living for an American poor person is very high for most of the world, and mostly not so far behind socialist paradises in the EU. I'll give you that we need some sort of means-tested max-out-of-pocket universal single payer health care, but other than that it's a bunch of crybabying and class envy.

Re:What exploding middle class? The one in China a (1)

the gnat (153162) | about a year ago | (#42480461)

Oh you mean that the rich are getting richer so that makes you feel worse off in comparison even though you really are better off as well

Except that by the metric of household income the lower income tiers aren't particularly better off. The wealthy saw a significant increase in their incomes (inflation-adjusted) over the last several decades; the working poor saw almost none. See here [wikipedia.org], and especially this plot [wikipedia.org].

Re:What exploding middle class? The one in China a (1, Informative)

thebigmacd (545973) | about a year ago | (#42480591)

Income and standard of living are orthogonal metrics: standard of living can increase while income decreases, and vice-versa.

And in the western world, standard of living has increased more than income has decreased.

Refreshing (5, Insightful)

SketchOfNight (1010207) | about a year ago | (#42479993)

I find this refreshing. If only everyone would take the time to reevaluate their beliefs from time to time we might be so much better off.

Re:Refreshing (2)

radiumsoup (741987) | about a year ago | (#42480091)

this is exactly why I never put anyone on ignore on web forums. (Well... I shouldn't say *never*... it's exceedingly rare, anyway - and only if the person is obviously delusional and belligerent in their communication with me. If they form their arguments well, though, I'm going to read it for comprehension.)

If you don't agree with me, then persuade me as to why I'm wrong... if you're rational, I'll listen. (read, whatever.)

Re:Refreshing (5, Insightful)

SJHillman (1966756) | about a year ago | (#42480281)

I agree. I rather enjoy listening to a well-formed opposing viewpoint. If someone makes a statement and can answer follow-up questions (particularly, "Why?"), it's usually a statement worth considering. It's unfortunate how many people can't explain why they believe something (especially in politics, but that's wandering off the point), but are still unwilling to listen to other viewpoints.

Re:Refreshing (1)

SketchOfNight (1010207) | about a year ago | (#42480399)

Exactly, I've been faced with opposing viewpoints on many occasions that have resulted in changing my own (for the better, in my opinion). The feeling of being wrong is grating, but it's certainly better than staying in denial and looking like an idiot.

Is he OK w/ Monsanto's lawsuits? (3, Interesting)

cpm99352 (939350) | about a year ago | (#42480003)

Cross contamination & subsequent loss of organic certification isn't an issue then?
How about Monsanto dragging innocent farmers into court?

Re:Is he OK w/ Monsanto's lawsuits? (5, Insightful)

Desler (1608317) | about a year ago | (#42480079)

Most likely not. Saying that GMO is not evil is not the same as condoning Monsanto's actions in court. Strawman much?

Speaking of Monsanto (3, Insightful)

FudRucker (866063) | about a year ago | (#42480159)

Roundup used in commercial agriculture (food crops) only eliminated weeds for a few decades, now there are superweeds that have evolved its own immunity to Roundup.
what happens in the lab and used in the fields will find its way in to the wild (it is unavoidable)

Re:Is he OK w/ Monsanto's lawsuits? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42480211)

Science has shown that CURRENT commercial GMO crops are dangerous.
Monsanto has done everything in its power to keep independent science from researching its GMOs.
I'm not against SAFE GMOs, but GMOs should be like drugs, that should be tested independently by various labs without conflicting interests.
That HASN'T been done for ANY commercial GMO currently available.
It smells that he has sold out or menaced.

Re:Is he OK w/ Monsanto's lawsuits? (1)

multicoregeneral (2618207) | about a year ago | (#42480337)

Not just dangerous, but outright poisonous in some cases. Like those cows that died after eating GMO grass a few months back. The problem isn't GMO's themselves, though, it's the lack of sufficient regulation and disclosure. Truth of the matter is that the public simply isn't being made aware of what they're eating, and how these food products were created. That's a huge problem, and I totally agree with you. Crony politics is another part of the problem.

Bin the Problems that GMO Crops Have (5, Insightful)

eldavojohn (898314) | about a year ago | (#42480253)

Cross contamination & subsequent loss of organic certification isn't an issue then? How about Monsanto dragging innocent farmers into court?

I would personally advocate slicing GMO issues into separate bins. What you're referring to is the Intellectual Property bin which is a problem with (at least the US) most countries and the ownership (whether an instance of or the general use of) genetic material. Put all those lawsuits and patents and copyright crap in one bin.

Then you have another bin where we analyze the human element of consumption of GMO foods. What is the process to determine when something has undergone enough testing and is ready to push it forward? How many years of human trials must be held before it can be released? We do this with drugs but strangely, I haven't heard of much about this with GMO crops -- why is that?

Lastly we have a more open problem like environmental issues both surrounding the plant's effect on its environment and also the adjusted actions of the humans cultivating this crop. For example: with Roundup ready plants from Monsanto, have we really analyzed what the increased usage of chemicals like Roundup has on the immediate vicinity of the fields? Do we know that these genetic constructs that are taken from an insect and inserted into a plant do not adversely affect the pollen and have indirect affects on hay fever or honey bees? Again, how do we test this and how long should it be tested before it's pushed nationwide.

Lynas raises an interesting point I had not considered -- that my above desires for process and bureaucracy will prevent a small company from venturing into this field. On the other hand, we've been using selective breeding to move past a lot of the hurdles Lynas mentioned that GMO crops are supposed to move us even further past. It's unfortunate but this isn't a black and white issue and I'm against the unfettered proliferation of gene constructs that have been taken from other organisms and inserted into plants without sufficient testing.

The process of DNA -> Amino Acid -> Protein is still a very difficult puzzle for us as humans and I feel we should not openly experiment with inserting stuff at Point A when we don't know the full effects that yields in points B and C. I feel like there is still a lot to be achieved with selective breeding and until we have a better understanding of protein folding, we should shy away from smashing DNA into strands of plants unless it's absolutely critical to humanity. Go ahead and do that stuff in a lab to better understand it but leave it in a lab until there's a process that ensures it is safe.

Re:Is he OK w/ Monsanto's lawsuits? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42480329)

This is actually my biggest concern with GMO food. It's like nuclear power. It's not the technology that's the problem, it's the greedy idiots in charge of the corporations using that technology.

Re:Is he OK w/ Monsanto's lawsuits? (1)

RightSaidFred99 (874576) | about a year ago | (#42480353)

Innocent farmers? According to _whom_, a bunch of anti-GMO kooks? I think most of those stories are apocryphal.

Re:Is he OK w/ Monsanto's lawsuits? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42480373)

Cross contamination & subsequent loss of organic certification isn't an issue then?

Organic certification is a scam. All food is organic.

Re:Is he OK w/ Monsanto's lawsuits? (1)

squiggleslash (241428) | about a year ago | (#42480421)

And on that note, how can you be in favor of Information Technology in a world where the BSA drags unwitting small business owners into court?

Depends on your perspective (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42480009)

Some are beneficial, some are horrifying. Such is life. However (due to the ridiculous patent system) most are economical devastating to small farmers. They are the wal-mart of the farming world, they are the inhibitors to sustainable farming practices.

Too late now (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42480021)

Unfortunately, the other anti-GMO people are more likely to just start ripping this guy to shreds rather than accepting the truth. Just like the anti-vacine crowd who still claim the autism link despite the studies showing the link being completely fabricated.

Colony Collapse Disorder Linked To Pesticide (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42480029)

Oh please! It's the lack of any scientific testing to verify these crops do not harm the environment unintentionally that is a problem.

http://science.slashdot.org/story/12/04/07/167230/colony-collapse-disorder-linked-to-pesticide-high-fructose-corn-syrup

moving forward I see (4, Interesting)

stenvar (2789879) | about a year ago | (#42480031)

To vilify GMOs is to be as anti-science as climate-change deniers, he says.

Sounds like he has already found someone else to vilify.

Re:moving forward I see (3, Insightful)

Desler (1608317) | about a year ago | (#42480169)

Yes, he is going after other anti-science people. Climate change is happening and has been verified even by studies commisioned by groups seeking to disprove it. Anyone still denying it is either an industry shill or someone with an agenda.

Re:moving forward I see (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42480213)

It's pretty weird that he would say, "I held this political/science policy opinion for all these years, but now I realize I was wrong" and then equate it to another science policy thing like global warming. He realized he was wrong on the one thing, what happens when he really starts to think about the other?

Re:moving forward I see (2)

Jeng (926980) | about a year ago | (#42480429)

He most likely already has thought about, unlike climate change skeptics which hold a position that is not supported by science.

There's bigger fish to fry... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42480043)

The fact that meat consumption is so high is a much bigger problem than most people are willing to admit. Meat production is helping to starve people.

Re:There's bigger fish to fry... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42480583)

Fuck you, hippy. I love me some meat! Wait, that came out wrong...

Unfortunately (1, Troll)

koan (80826) | about a year ago | (#42480045)

research has shown some GMO's are harmful.

Re:Unfortunately (2)

yotto (590067) | about a year ago | (#42480271)

research has shown some GMO's are harmful.

Research has shown that some humans kill. What's your point?

Re:Unfortunately (1)

PlusFiveTroll (754249) | about a year ago | (#42480371)

research has shown some GMO's are harmful.

Research has shown that some humans kill. What's your point?

If I was a killer and you were cloning a billion copies of me, someone might find that a cause for concern.

Re:Unfortunately (1)

RightSaidFred99 (874576) | about a year ago | (#42480515)

Which ones? And please don't embarrass yourself by pointing to the soundly ridiculed French study where they paraded around tumor-prone rats to the media.

Wow, Monsanto's evil tentacles reached his brain (0)

Squidlips (1206004) | about a year ago | (#42480051)

Since when are terminator genes good for the environment? Since when have herbicide-resistant crops been good for us? Since when is it a good idea to have corn that has the BT built into every cell?

Re:Wow, Monsanto's evil tentacles reached his brai (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42480449)

Since when are any of those things actually bad? Or at least, so bad that GM crops cannot ever be safely used to provide safe food? I understand the implications of creating plants that have what is effectively built-in DRM. I also understand that having an herbicide-resistant plant indirectly causes some issues by encouraging overuse of herbicides, but none of that actually makes the GM crops bad for us. All of those issues can easily be handled either through legislation, process changes, or through further alterations.

Get back to me when they GM crops are actually unsafe to eat, and then maybe I will see your point.

We need to go after the badness that surrounds the use of GM crops, not try and just pretend that non-GM crops are better when they definitely are not.

Re:Wow, Monsanto's evil tentacles reached his brai (4, Informative)

JMZero (449047) | about a year ago | (#42480593)

Since when are terminator genes good for the environment?

"Terminator genes" are a perfect example of the scaremongering on the anti-GMO side. They were never really deployed, and Monsanto has vowed not to do so.

And even if they were, you've got the idea wrong. They weren't an environmental threat - rather, terminator genes were scary because they'd make poor farmers reliant on big industry for their seeds (Terminator genes prevent the resultant plants from having viable seeds). They COULD actually be good for the environment, as they'd prevent GM plants from spreading uncontrolled (which is another scare story).

There's pluses and minuses to GM plants for food. But the debate is dominated by people with bizarre, uninformed emotional connections to one side or the other. Like yourself. Are you as brave and open minded as the guy in the OP? Having found out you're double-wrong on this, are you going to reconsider the issue and perhaps take a moment to learn about what's at stake?

I doubt it. I think it's much more likely that you'll lash out at me because I'm mean, or something equally productive.

ringed some bells (4, Insightful)

faustoc4 (2766155) | about a year ago | (#42480053)

I have not read the article, but a couple of things in this summary ringed some bells: current GMOs use is not to feed the world population, for instance USA corn monopoly is empowered with Monsanto GMO corn to make farmers and countries even more dependent and them. There is a whole vicious circle involving subsidies, monoculture, corn industrial derivatives, corn feedstock, antibiotics that has nothing with "feeding the world population" but with empowering monopolies". Furthermore "'natural' agriculture", is he talking about traditional agriculture? I couldn't agree more that it's doomed. But the UN has studied Agro-ecology and found out that it could double agriculture production http://is.gd/oxtixy [is.gd]

Re:ringed some bells (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42480523)

Conflate things much? GMO != Monsanto. Period. GMO = Good (usually). Monsanto = Bad (usually). Don't conflate the technology and product with how Monsanto operations and attempts to weld it. They are two entirely different issues. Conflation will help no one.

GMO's aren't the problem, GMO patents are (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42480065)

I have nothing against GMOs. What I do have a problem with is patents on genetics.

I think that's what a lot of the more educated anti-GMO activists have a problem with as well. Nobody should be able to patent a life form or a DNA sequence.

Re:GMO's aren't the problem, GMO patents are (1)

RightSaidFred99 (874576) | about a year ago | (#42480531)

So you can spend billions developing a product and because it's easy to steal anyone should be able to just use it for free? You should absolutely be able to patent a life form _you create_.

Money... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42480069)

Would be interesting to know if Mr. Lynas has a new employer.

Wonder if he just got paid off (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42480071)

Seeing all the research showing absolutely 0% increase in food production per acre, this "i found science" line is bullshit.

Mmmhmm, I smell something bad. (2, Informative)

s.petry (762400) | about a year ago | (#42480083)

In all cases, follow the money. While I'm not completely anti-GMO, the companies producing GMOs have not been honest, not been honest, and not been honest. As a long time hater and now a big advocate, I wonder who's payroll he made it on too in order to now back GMO foods. There is a tremendous amount of science showing how bad GMOs are, much worst than the anti-GMO crowd initially thought! So his "because of Science" answer is pure bullshit!

Studies have shown that GMO foods are not only unhealthy for humans, but often harm the environment. As a simple example, Poland found that a GMO corn was killing off whole colonies of bees. Poland outlawed GMO corn.

Studies showed that long term, GMO foods can cause some nasty cancers in lab rats. When mixed with a certain pesticide, the cancer was insanely fast growing and abnormally massive tumors would be found.

A very large GMO company ran smear campaigns trying to keep hiding what was GMO and what was not. Do you really trust eating foods that they don't want to tell you are genetically modified? Not only not tell you, but spend nearly a billion dollars to keep you from knowing?

That same very large GMO has been suing people left and right for having seed gone awry grow on their own farms. They have monopolized and killed off competition in many markets, many of which are overseas and impoverished areas. Interestingly, after the Mississippi river flooding, guess who bought most of the farm land? Of course it's only those Chinese and Russians that can influence the weather though, and hell an upstanding US company would never do such a thing would they?

Needless to say at this point, I don't trust anyone that changes sides based on a lie.

Re:Mmmhmm, I smell something bad. (3, Insightful)

thePowerOfGrayskull (905905) | about a year ago | (#42480305)

Of course it's only those Chinese and Russians that can influence the weather though, and hell an upstanding US company would never do such a thing would they?

See, there you go, losing what credibility you may have had. Couldn't just be that they saw an opportunity and took it, could it?

It would be great if you provided some actual citations for the studies you referenced.

All that aside, I too am suspicious of turnarounds in opinion like this - it's very rare that a person can admit that he was wrong on such a scale.

Re:Mmmhmm, I smell something bad. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42480385)

I was thinking money too. Blatant bribery(campaign contributions) works for congressmen, so why not try it on your opposition too. "What's real and whats for sale?"

Re:Mmmhmm, I smell something bad. (3, Insightful)

phantomfive (622387) | about a year ago | (#42480405)

Every anti-GMO person, including you, ignores science. Usually in the same way.

How? You ignore every study that shows GMO crops are safe, and focus on one or two (often questionable) studies that suggest there might be a problem in some way, then take that to mean it's all the work of the devil. Even though the study's authors don't say that! Here is a way you can tell if you're being irrational:

GMO saves lives. If you can't accept that, then you aren't being scientific. GMO might not be a solution in all cases, and certainly not all GMOs are safe (neither are all natural organisms), but being anti-GMO as a blanket rule is dumb.

Re:Mmmhmm, I smell something bad. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42480601)

GMOs weren't killing bees. Round-up was killing bees. Learn the difference.

Re:Mmmhmm, I smell something bad. (1)

RightSaidFred99 (874576) | about a year ago | (#42480613)

The usual nonsense. Anyone who says something pro-GMO is a shill, of course. What easier way to argue can there be?

Name some of this "science" showing how bad GMOs are. Maybe you'll reference the French study, which pro and anti-GMO alike soundly criticized. They used small numbers of rats that are already prone to tumors, then paraded around rat tumors to the media as if it's all scary. There were a multitude of issues with that study and many wonder why it was even published it's so bad.

The labeling nonsense was just a away around the lack of any good science against GMO. If you can't prove they're harmful, you'll just use scare labels to confuse people.

Then we get the ill-cited references to people being sued "left and right" for supposedly doing nothing wrong.

Literally your entire view on this subject is broken and discredited.

As an environmentalist ... I discovered science (1)

g01d4 (888748) | about a year ago | (#42480103)

Really? Shouldn't the science have come first?

Re:As an environmentalist ... I discovered science (1)

Jeng (926980) | about a year ago | (#42480491)

In school you are taught environmentalism from kindergarten on, in fact you see it in a lot of children's television even. Science doesn't begin to get taught until 4th or 5th grade.

I bet he bought GMO stock! Their income is going v (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42480107)

I bet he bought some GMO stock! Their income is going viral, literally! Who cares about social justice i.e. your right to have your crop of not infested with GMO dna and having to pony up $$$ to monsanto through blackmail. Your right to actually grow ENVIRONMENTALLY friendly crops without having to use poisons that are even illegal in warfare. Just as long as some big corporations can make some big money, who the fuck cares! Right?

Great and all... BUT (4, Informative)

mindaktiviti (630001) | about a year ago | (#42480109)

This is great and all that he saw the light when it comes to science... but with technology and science comes responsibility as well. Two key issues come to mind:
(1) Cross pollination of farmers crops, and then demanding royalties from the seed owners,
(2) and engineering the crops to disable re-planting the same seeds for the purpose of profit.

One actual example would be allowing a patent to monsanto on basmati rice...
link: http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2004/jan/31/gm.food [guardian.co.uk]

Re:Great and all... BUT (3, Insightful)

CuteSteveJobs (1343851) | about a year ago | (#42480263)

The logic of this article seems to be one person has changed their mind about something, therefore everyone else with similar beliefs is also wrong, and valid concerns such as the ones you raise can suddenly be ignored.

The reason why big companies dominate... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42480121)

> Moreover, the reason why big companies dominate the industry is that anti-GMO activists and policymakers have made it too difficult for small startups to enter the field.

Publicly funded research and breeding (i.e., USDA extension offices) did just fine, and still does just fine where they are still funded. The reason big companies dominate, and the reason they pursue GMOs, is because they can *own* the life, not because GMOs are inherently better for society than traditional breeding. I'm a little uncomfortable with big companies owning the DNA we rely on for sustenance.

GMO is inherently centralized, requiring large companies; "small startups" are never going to be significant in that field. It takes one farmer to make a new breed with traditional methods.

GMO problems nothing to do with science (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42480133)

Look at the IP problems in music, films, mobile phones, software. Monsanto and others want to own IP on food. ou can live without th former, but try living without food.

Re:GMO problems nothing to do with science (3, Funny)

tekrat (242117) | about a year ago | (#42480189)

Don't worry... If we get hungry enough, we'll eat the Monsanto Board of Directors....

And after saying that... (1, Insightful)

Minwee (522556) | about a year ago | (#42480153)

...Lynas jumped into his gold plated Ferrari and drove back to the country club for another round of golf with his new best friends from the Monsanto Board of Directors.

GMOs themselves are not evil/bad (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42480157)

But sometimes the companies that use/sell them are.

Sounds to me that he found "paycheck" (4, Insightful)

PortHaven (242123) | about a year ago | (#42480161)

Seriously, there is plenty of science that shows issues related to GMO crops. If not the crops themselves, the fact that a round up ready corn means several times more round up applied to the ground. This is scienfitically documented.

So I am of the opinion this guy is probably just some bought out loon.

Science, and advocate of real science, would concede there is far too much we just do not know at this point. And MANY fears that were pointed to, have been proved valid. Like infection of wild specieis.

That's SCIENCE...

Re:Sounds to me that he found "paycheck" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42480525)

Yeah, what an ass. The summary was more than enough to make anybody scream out SHILL!

So from one radical position to the other (2)

Hentes (2461350) | about a year ago | (#42480179)

The two options aren't unquestioning acceptance and total ban. GMO with strict regulations can be useful. Without it, it's a disaster waiting to happen. He is just a professional activist who can't accept that the world isn't black and white.

Not enough science (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42480195)

"To vilify GMOs is to be as anti-science as climate-change deniers"

AGW is not Popper-falsifiable and there is no empirical evidence for CO2 causing warming.

It sounds like he needs to keep learning more science.

GMO crops (0, Troll)

girlintraining (1395911) | about a year ago | (#42480217)

GMO crops aren't universally good, and they have a lack of oversight to the same degree drugs do. For something that can affect the human body just as much, this is irresponsible. Montsano recently created a variety of cucumber that results in genital baldness [thelapine.ca]. We're not used to thinking of our food as drugs, or causing side effects, but given the sharp rise in the prevalence of food allergies and stuff like this, the obvious conclusion is that this is a technology we don't fully understand and has the potential to kill if misused.

More oversight is required, and blaming activists for the startup costs is stupid -- it's the patent law system that's broken, and the activists have a point regarding the safety of GMO products, even if they have been focusing on the wrong reasons.

Re:GMO crops (0)

nedlohs (1335013) | about a year ago | (#42480411)

My joke meter seems broken. Are you trying to be funny? Or are you seriously referencing the lapine?

You might find their article on the Republicans trying to ban super soakers to curb school shootings, just as informative as that one.

Re:GMO crops (1)

PylonHead (61401) | about a year ago | (#42480549)

Linking to "Canada's Best Satirical Newspaper". Really sir, an article stating "Cucumbers Cause Genital Baldness" didn't trigger your skepticism?

Re:GMO crops (1)

Punchcardz (598335) | about a year ago | (#42480575)

Hello person on the internet who can't descriminate a real news story from a story on a website that bills itself as "Canada's Best Satirical Newspaper". For other hard hitting facts to base your well though-out world view on, I recommend www.theonion.com [theonion.com]

monsanto Evil (1)

faustoc4 (2766155) | about a year ago | (#42480219)

Found this gem on wayback machine http://web.archive.org/web/20090422041121/http://www.monsanto.com/monsanto_today/2009/biotech_crop_safety.asp [archive.org]

"Millions of farm animals have consumed nutritious feed rations made with grain from biotech crops and people have consumed hundreds of millions of meals containing foods derived from biotech crops—all without a single substantiated instance of illness or harm due to the GM ingredient."

We all are lab rats

How much money changed hands? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42480233)

.. or is he just dumb?

It's not just science (4, Insightful)

thetoadwarrior (1268702) | about a year ago | (#42480245)

Some of us don't like the idea of corporations eventually holding patents on all our food. Sorry but if we can't sustain ourselves without giving up something so basic then we need fewer people on the planet.

Like most things.... (1)

Livius (318358) | about a year ago | (#42480255)

Neither extreme is particularly credible, nor is going from one extreme to the other without at any point having a balanced perspective.

The technology to genetically modify food species is not bad, but misuses of the technology are, and the misuses are happening.

I see what you did there... (1)

jimmifett (2434568) | about a year ago | (#42480269)

Amusing, lumping together global warming (is that even the name of the new scare anymore?) and GMO.

I don't think one can easily find a "Climate Change" denier. Everyone knows climates change over time.

What you will find are those that deny that climate change is more than minutely affected by man made causes.

Nobody sane needed this. (1)

RightSaidFred99 (874576) | about a year ago | (#42480297)

I think the "former wrong-doer (or in this case, wrong-thinker) does right" think is cool and all, but I don't think anybody sane needed to hear this from him to form an opinion, and the anti-GMO nuts won't be swayed by it.

Prepare for him to be vilified as a 'shill' and accused of all sorts of nonsense by anti-GMO whackos.

Congradulations, that doesn't mean GMO is always g (4, Insightful)

Nadaka (224565) | about a year ago | (#42480315)

Congratulations, that doesn't mean GMO is always good.

It is a bad thing to breed pesticides into our food supply without absolute certainty of they are safe.

It is not a bad thing to have to label GMO foods for what they are.

GMO's aren't evil, but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42480341)

... the big corporations using them are. Software patents are debatable in the best of cases, but when the point of the software is to reproduce itself, you have serious problems if you think you can go and sue people when the pollen gets into their (otherwise non-patented) crops.

DRM as well. As bad as it is that we can't copy music files for backup, it's even worse when the main point of a crop is: you plant it, it reproduces, you sell some of it and plant some to have sustainable growth the next year.
Not, you enter into a legally-binding contract to get rid of them all and buy some new clones for the next year, because that goes against the entire theory of organisms adapting to their environment by surviving and reproducing.

GMOs aren't evil -- the big corporations that use them are.
Someone should make a GPL-licensed Potato.

A lot of these people don't understand... (4, Interesting)

ducomputergeek (595742) | about a year ago | (#42480347)

A few years ago the closest grocery store to where I was living was a Coop. Which was great in the summer because it was stocked with a lot of fresh stuff from local farmers (it was a rural college town).

Well one of my biggest sources of income is the family farms I've inherited along with my Dad that we lease out. We're semi involved helping the farmer with trying new methods on our farms trying to boost yields (Rice & Soybeans are the primary crop, some years corn). This is mainly my father as he's retired and it gives him something to do, but as he's gotten up into his 70's I've started to take a more involved role in things.

One time I was at the Coop and commented about rice and lack of a particular brand that we sold our rice to which led to a conversation with one of the patrons who flipped out when I mentioned we had switched to a new hybrid seed. She went on this total anti-GMO rant at which point there were several people looking on and I said, "I said Hybrid. As in Rice A was bred with Rice B to produce the strain we plant. Farmers have been doing this for centuries now. Pretty much everything in your bag has been Genetically Modified using cross breeding."

Then I left and went on about my business leaving her red in the face not exactly sure how to respond to that.

And that's what I've never understood. To these people using cross breeding and classical Mendelian genetics to modify plants are fine. But go in scientifically and do the same thing in a sophisticated lab and suddenly it's evil.

Re:A lot of these people don't understand... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42480391)

I doubt people crossbreeded insects and rice before. There is a difference crossbreeding rice with rice and rice with fish or some insect or genetically modify it to produce pesticide, hormones or fermones.

Devil in the details (4, Insightful)

WaffleMonster (969671) | about a year ago | (#42480363)

Who cares what he has to say?

Any blanket assertion of GMOs being bad for you is just as idiotic and pointless as a blanket assertion GMOs are not bad for you.

Every case must be judged on the merits and it must not stop with the question of the qualities of the product. One must also consider the secondary effects playing god has on the environment and fucked up geopolitics of globalization meets Monsanto.

Sell out? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42480377)

With Monsanto's deep pockets, I'm sure he was bought/bribed to retract his previous statements.

The reason large companies dominate... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42480387)

Publicly funded research and breeding (i.e., USDA extension offices) did just fine, and still does just fine where it is still funded. The reason big companies dominate, and the reason they pursue GMOs, is because they can *own* the life, not because GMOs are inherently better for society than traditional breeding. I'm a little uncomfortable with big companies owning the DNA we rely on for sustenance.

GMO is inherently centralized, requiring large companies; "small startups" are never going to be significant in that field. It takes one farmer to make a new breed.

Inducements? (1)

Un pobre guey (593801) | about a year ago | (#42480425)

The tawdry subject of coin comes immediately to mind. Was this person somehow encouraged to make these vast, overly general statements?

I'm all for GMOs... (4, Interesting)

Andrio (2580551) | about a year ago | (#42480587)

When they stop being the patented and wholly owned product of megacorperations simply trying to control the world's food supply.

All the food we eat (1)

foreboy (879499) | about a year ago | (#42480589)

All food that is produced by humans through agriculture and farming has been genetically modified in some way, even though much of it happened in ancient times. Corn would cease to exist without humans. Almonds would all be poisonous. Cattle would not be docile. Wheat would scatter it's seeds before we could collect them. Man has been genetically modifying its food for thousands of years - even if we didn't always understand that's what we were doing. We actually understand the consequences of what we are doing far better than we ever did - because we are doing it consciously with science. This is what he discovered.
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