The Lynas School of pseudo-scientific environmentalism Twenty-two pieces of junk science from the Lynas Manifesto
Dr Brian John Past Lecturer in Geography, University of Durham 6th January 2013
In a high-profile lecture to the recent Oxford Farming Conference, self-proclaimed neo-scientist Mark Lynas launched a vicious polemic, aimed at the organic farming movement and at those who oppose GM crops and foods and the activities of the GM multinationals. The speech was linked in to a highly orchestrated pro-GM publicity campaign. The press loved it -- and Lynas was pretty pleased with it himself, pushing the text of his speech out in all directions and twittering happily about its impact on the global stage...... which included 30,000 hits on his web site. The theme which the press picked up on was of course that of the ex-GM crop trasher who has now put emotion and prejudice to one side and who has become instead a science junkie. Others might see the conversion of a naive individual from one religion to another.........
http://www.foodmanufacture.co.uk/People/I-was-wrong-to-trash-GM-author-M... http://www.fwi.co.uk/Articles/03/01/2013/136995/Mark-Lynas-Farmers-shoul... http://www.thegrocer.co.uk/topics/environment/i-was-wrong-about-gm-admit...
Within a day of the lecture, somebody (Mark Lynas?) had placed this on the Lynas Wikipedia page:
"In a January 2013 lecture to the Oxford Farming Conference, Lynas detailed his conversion from an organizer of the the anti-GMO food movement in Europe to becoming a supporter of the technology. He admitted "... in 2008 I was still penning screeds in the Guardian attacking the science of GM – even though I had done no academic research on the topic, and had a pretty limited personal understanding. I don't think I'd ever read a peer-reviewed paper on biotechnology or plant science..." He apologized for engaging in vandalism of field trials of genetically engineered crops and rationalized his conversion stating, "anti-science environmentalism became increasingly inconsistent with my pro-science environmentalism with regard to climate change." Lynas criticized organizations with which he was previously associated including Greenpeace and organic trade groups like the U.K. Soil Association for ignoring scientific facts about genetically modified crop safety and benefits because it conflicted with their ideologies and stated he "was completely wrong to oppose GMOs."
Unfortunately, there was no space on the Wikipedia page for any information on the "scientific facts" supposedly ignored by Greenpeace and the Soil Association. Let that pass for now. So -- we have a retired environmental activist who now believes in "pro-science environmentalism". Oh yes? When we read his speech, what we find is something which is so far away from scientific reliability that it is actually quite cringe-making. By turns, the speech is disingenuous, contrived, manipulative and factually inaccurate. Lynas is not a scientist, and it shows. He simply regurgitates the "convenient fictions" of the pro-GM lobby -- often without bothering to check his facts. It is a disgraceful exhibition of hubris underpinned by pseudo-science, from top to bottom.
1. Lynas says that the early anti-GM campaign (which he claims that he helped to start) was "explicitly an anti-science movement". Nonsense. HIS personal campaign might have been anti-science, but mine wasn't, and neither was the movement I became familiar with. From the beginning, we used scientific evidence to flag up the potential dangers of GMOs and the environmental damage associated with them. We even used evidence from the the Government's own (very inadequate) Farm-scale Trials of GM crops to show that GMOs harm the environment, and we placed great reliance on publicly-funded and peer-reviewed research which demonstrated cell damage in mammals which had consumed GM food.
2. Lynas waxes eloquent about the value of peer-reviewed science, and implies that this is what underpins biotechnology. Nonsense. The case for GM crops, such as it is, is based almost entirely on industry-funded research. This research is never peer-reviewed before it is seen by regulators who determine the safety of a GM crop for release or consumption, and who never evaluate whether a crop achieves its stated benefits. Even well after a crop is released, only a tiny fraction of these dossier studies are ever published -- and they cannot be replicated by independent scientists because only those with a special relationship to the developing company have access to research raw materials. There are virtually no proper toxicology or safety studies, and studies that are flagged up as safety studies are often nothing more than short-term studies designed to show nutritional equivalence. Because these studies cannot be repeated or verified, they should be rejected out of hand by the scientific community. Instead, they are accepted as valid.
Read the entire 22-point rebuttal of Lynas school of pseudoscience.