Mark Lynas has attracted considerable media attention by apologising for founding the anti-GM movement. But this background briefing from those in the know makes clear Lynas was never remotely a founder or even a key player in that movement, or in the green movement more widely. Those setting the record straight include some of the UK’s best known environmentalists together with many of the main movers of the GM campaign of the 1990s.
For more about the misleading claims: Spinwatch
For more about the bad science these claims have been used to promote: Spinwatch
Mark Lynas, a UK based author of several books on climate change, has recently announced that he has changed his views on GM crops and foods. Many articles and statements about his change of views state that he had a founding role or past leadership in the anti-GM debate, or the environment movement more generally. These claims continue to be headlined to generate interest in Mark Lynas’s revised views on GM, without which it is unlikely they would have the same media attention.
Source: GM Watch
Mark Lynas has made some of these claims himself(1) and has not corrected them in interviews(2) or attempted to correct misleading articles.(3) He said he found some of the misleading claims amusing.(4)
These claims of Mark Lynas’s importance in GM campaigns are not true. Many of those who were involved substantially in the environment movement or GM campaigns during the 1980s, 1990s and 2000s, both before and after Lynas’s engagement in some anti-GM activism including actions to remove GM crops, have confirmed this.(5) They do not recognise Lynas’s contribution as being significant in the ways it is being represented and want to put the record straight on this point of factual accuracy so that there is no further misunderstanding.
1. Examples of statements made by Mark Lynas:
“I am also sorry that I helped start the anti-GM movement back in the ’90s.”
Speech at The Oxford Farming Conference, 3 January 2013
“I really was one of the founders of the early movement.”
Speech at the John Innes Centre, Norwich, 4 December 2012
2. Examples of statements made to Mark Lynas which he has not corrected:
“You really became one of the Godfathers of this movement.”
Anti-GMO activist has change of heart, RT America, 7 January 2013
“You were one of the leaders of the anti-GM campaign in the UK.”
Steven Sackur, Hardtalk, BBC World Service, 30 January 2013
3. Media reports have, for example, incorrectly described him as “one of the founders of the anti-GM crop movement” (The Observer), as “one of the first leaders of the anti-GM movement” (The Australian), as having “helped drive Europe’s movement against genetically engineered crops” (The New York Times), and as “a leading voice against using genetically modified organisms” (Huffington Post). More examples here.
5. This Background Briefing represents the views of the following:
Luke Anderson, GEN (Genetic Engineering Network) 1997-2003; TOGG (Totnes Genetix Group) 1997-2002
Adrian Bebb, Food Campaigner for Friends of the Earth 1997-present
Tom Burke, Director of Friends of Earth 1975-1979; Director of Green Alliance 1983–1991
Julie Hill, Policy Director 1987-1992 and then Director 1992-97, Green Alliance
Tony Juniper, Policy and Campaigns Director 1997-2002 and then Director 2003-2008, Friends of the Earth
Dr David King, Director of the Genetics Forum 1990-1993; Editor of GenEthics News 1993-2000; Director of Human Genetics Alert
Dr Sue Mayer, Science Director of Greenpeace UK 1990-1995; Founder and Director of GeneWatch UK 1997-2007
Peter Melchett, Chair 1985-1989 and Executive Director 1989-2001, Greenpeace UK
Patrick Mulvany, ITDG/Practical Action on food, agriculture and technology 1979-2012; co-Chair UK Food Group
Helena Paul, GEN (Genetic Engineering Network) 1997-present; co-founder and founding Chair of GM Freeze 1999-present
Jonathon Porritt, Director of Friends of the Earth 1984-1990
Theo Simon, Seize The Day 1996-present; GEN (Genetic Engineering Network) 1997-present
Andrew Simms, Campaign Communications Manager for Christian Aid 1995-1999; NEF (New Economics Foundation) 2002-present
Liz Snook, TOGG (Totnes Genetix Group) 1997-2005; Co-Editor of Genetix Update for GEN 1999-2005
Dr Ricarda Steinbrecher, Science Director of the Genetics Forum 1996-1999; Coordinator of the WEN (Women’s Environmental Network) GM Campaign 1996-1999
Jim Thomas, GM Campaigner for Greenpeace 1996-2002; GEN (Genetic Engineering Network) 1997-2001; ETC Group 2002-present
Rowan Tilly, genetiX snowball 1997-2001
Kathryn Tulip, genetiX snowball 1997-2001
Hugh Warwick, Recording GM protests/events 1997-2001; Editor of ‘Splice’, the magazine of the Genetics Forum 1998-2002
Oh hoh! Mark Lynus and Jon Entine – Birds of a Feather Get Paid Together!
The shills are out and about, folks and it’s our job to knock them down and expose them for what they truly are: the paid mouthpieces of the likes of Syngenta, Monsanto and Bayer.
No, you silly bad boys of modern media; we don’t buy your bullshit and we don’t buy your ‘story’ either. You pretend to be ‘engaged’ and ‘involved’ and a part of the actual dialogue about these toxic and poisonous ‘solutions’ to our ‘food crisis’ and it’s all spin and it’s all bullshit. Call it what it is people and let the main stream media know we don’t buy your propaganda and we don’t like your ‘pretty boys’ either. Bullshit walks, baby, bullshit walks and you, Mr. Linus and you, Mr. Entine are walking all the way home because you disgrace science, morality community and social accountability with lies and propaganda for a price paid to you by the very corporations who are attempting to control the world’s food supply through manipulation and propaganda and we are having none of it. Crawl back into the hole you crawled out of and don’t come back out. Liars, cheats and thieves for profit. Sickening.
Would have been good if some of those who put their names to this – or ALL of them – could have described just what part Lynus DID play, and just what position(s) he held – if any – in any of the environmental groups and organisations. Or whether they’d ever heard of him at all. Was it all fabrication on his part.
I just did a search on him and in the wikipeadia profile of him it mentioned that he wrote articles for the Guardian (and some other publications) in the past. So I did a search on the Guardian website and found one anti-GM article that he wrote in 2008, then there’s another article written in 2011 that has him as pro-GM.
Was he just setting up his anti-credentials so that he could then claim to have converted and, as such, denounce the anti-GM movement and ‘his former colleagues’. Sounds like it to me.