British Activist Spurs Conversation, Ignores Science on GE Crops

Contact:  Paul Towers, 916-216-1082,
ptowers@panna.org

January 9, 2013

British Activist Spurs Conversation, Ignores Science on GE Crops

Oakland, CA – For more than a decade, Mark Lynas has been a staunch opponent of genetically engineered (GE) crops, but last week he announced he has changed his mind. Lynas’ position reversal has generated much attention, and has given a platform to the ongoing global conversation about the value of patented seeds, pesticides and the science behind the technology.

PAN Senior Scientist, Marcia Ishii-Eiteman, notes that GE crops have consistently failed to deliver on their promises to “feed the world,” and instead drive up the use of hazardous pesticides.

She issued the following statement:

“Lynas’ distortions regarding the vast body of science that informs today’s public policy debates around genetically engineered (GE) crops are disappointing. Lynas in no way speaks for the global community of scientists, health and development experts who have presented solid scientific evidence that GE crops have failed to provide the yield or nutritional benefits advertised by their manufacturers.* Instead, GE crops have driven a massive increase in herbicide use and an explosion of herbicide-resistant “superweeds” that now threaten biodiversity, public health, rural economies and farmers’ livelihoods.

Will this change? Unfortunately, the majority of  ‘new generation’ GE crops developed by Dow and Monsanto —and currently in the USDA ‘pipeline’ awaiting agency approval — have been engineered to be used with older and more hazardous pesticides like 2,4-D and dicamba. These products have nothing to do with feeding the world, and everything to do with increasing pesticide sales.

The reality is that modern, state-of-the-art agricultural science, and farmers’ best practices, point us towards 21st century organic and ecological agriculture as among the most powerful approaches available to feed the world sustainably, particularly in the face of converging global climate, water and energy crises.”

* This critical assessment of GE crops’ disappointing results was the conclusion of more than 400 scientists and development experts from over 80 countries, who co-authored the World Bank and UN’s International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development (IAASTD), the most comprehensive and rigorous assessment of agriculture ever to have taken place.

A lead author on the IAASTD, Ishii-Eiteman notes that after four years of assessing the evidence, this seminal report concluded that GE crops are unlikely to feed the world, but have in fact, tended to benefit transnational corporations far more than resource-limited family farmers.