From Slate (with my apologies, but this is where the story starts):
If you fear genetically modified food, you may have Mark Lynas to thank. By his own reckoning, British environmentalist helped spur the anti-GMO movement in the mid-‘90s, arguing as recently at 2008 that big corporations’ selfish greed would threaten the health of both people and the Earth. Thanks to the efforts of Lynas and people like him, governments around the world—especially in Western Europe, Asia, and Africa—have hobbled GM research, and NGOs like Greenpeace have spurned donations of genetically modified foods.
But Lynas has changed his mind—and he’s not being quiet about it.
I want to start with some apologies. For the record, here and upfront, I apologise 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 demonising 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.
Well, it certainly is nice that he finally figured out that his activities were hurting more than helping and that he is man enough to admit it and apologize. That if he is going to make assertions about science, he should probably use science to substantiate those assertions. And that, hey, guess what? The entire history of human agriculture could arguably be called one of increasingly-refined methods of genetic modification of food crops and animals. That there isn't necessarily more virtue in changing an organism while wearing dungarees and calling it "cross-breeding" than there is in doing so while wearing a lab coat and calling it "genetic modification":
This was also explicitly an anti-science movement. We employed a lot of imagery about scientists in their labs cackling demonically as they tinkered with the very building blocks of life. Hence the Frankenstein food tag – this absolutely was about deep-seated fears of scientific powers being used secretly for unnatural ends. What we didn’t realise at the time was that the real Frankenstein’s monster was not GM technology, but our reaction against it.
Of course, there is a catch to Lynas's reformation. (But there would be, wouldn't there?) Like any reformed hardcore addict, Lynas has failed to treat the underlying cause of his disease and has instead transferred the focus of his addiction to something which he believes to be less harmful. Like coffee and cigarettes at a meeting of ex-alkies, Lynas has switched to "climate change". He assures us that this time he's right because climate change is chock full of scientific consensus, not like that crazy anti-GMO crap he was selling before.
Slate tells us that Lynas claims that, "To vilify GMOs is to be as anti-science as climate-change deniers" — a statement with hypocrisy and irony oozing from its every pore. "Climate-change deniers" is the catch-all slander which includes anyone who doesn't buy into the doomsaying of the likes of Al "100 Million Petrodollars" Gore, Michael "Hockey Stick" Mann, or James "Sabotage The A/C" Hansen. Even if you accept that there seems to be a general global warming trend (don't let them kid you into thinking they're talking about anything other than warming when they say "climate change" — there is no hysterical uproar over global cooling, after all) but you express skepticism over our ability to accurately assess that warming and — especially — if you question whether anthropogenic CO2 is the prime forcing agent of that warming, you are a "denier".
If you point out that surface station temperature data is inconsistent and unreliable due to local heat sources and inaccurate error-correction, that generalization about ice loss and sea levels based on satellite data is also unreliable because the instruments were never benchmarked, or that using bristlecone pines as historic climate proxies, as Michael Mann did to create his infamous hockey stick, is inherently flawed, then you must be "anti-science". You're a particularly "anti-science" Neanderthal if you ask whether that big hot thing in the sky has more influence on global temperatures than human activity. I guess that makes the IPCC anti-science now.
Then again, environmentalists don't really care about the science, they care about manipulating the science to achieve moral ascendancy and gain power. They want you to feel guilty about your existence and pay up to and beyond a trillion dollars to assuage the guilt they have induced based on various theories within the extremely young and uncertain science of climatology. They want you to allow them to chip away at the achievements of modern human civilization and if you question them they will, in all seriousness, say that you are worse than some of the worst monsters in human history, that you should be tracked by the government and punished for your views, and that you even deserve to die. They feel justified using these statist tactics because they (claim to) believe that they are saving future lives — particularly those of The Poor — and your failure to immediately knuckle under to their hostage demands and pay a massive amount of treasure to them is tantamount to future murder.
They have no proof of any of this, of course, only theory.
Right at the beginning of Lynas's long, long mea culpa he says that he is, "someone who believes that everyone in this world has a right to a healthy and nutritious diet of their choosing". Maybe they have a "right" to it, maybe they don't, but it is a laudable sentiment and one we as a species should strive toward, but there is another thing which modern humans arguably have a "right" to and that is power. Specifically electrical power. The human world runs on electrical power nearly as much as it runs on food and potable water, yet all of the crunchy, self-righteous "green" power policies demanded by environmentalists only serve to make The Poor and Downtrodden — the people whom environmentalists always claim to be serving — even poorer and more downtrodden. They even serve to make them hungrier.
Compared to the theoretical people who will theoretically die in a theoretical future without a massive expenditure on every crackpot "green" idea out there, how many people actually went hungry or starved to death because of the anti-science, anti-GMO hysteria Lynas sold to the world? How many more will remain poor and hungry because of the new anti-science hysteria he's selling? For all of Lynas's protestations about how he cares for the poor, his actions and beliefs, past and present, only serve to show that he is either an ignorant incompetent or a cynical opportunist. I'm kind of thinking it's the latter.