'The opposition to GM crops is not based on science... There is no substantiated case of a health impact, even so much as a headache'
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An early member of anti-GM movement, Mark Lynas made a turnaround early this year. Speaking to The Indian Express Editor-in-Chief Shekhar Gupta, on NDTV 24X7, Lynas says science won him over, explains how GM myths take root, and flays activists for denying farmers the right to make choices
You used to sneak into people's farms and burn crops because they used genetically modified technology. And then suddenly, sometime early this year, you made a complete turnaround. An environmental activist in some ways, the founder of the anti-GM movement...
Not the founder, I was one of the early members. But this was a very broad, diverse coalition which involved Prince Charles, the right-wing press, the middle-class people. I look back and I think, 'What went wrong?'. How come we all came to believe something which was not just incorrect but the precise opposite of the truth the scientists were telling us? It took me 10 years to really understand that the science wasn't supporting what we as activists were saying. And that was a very long process, a difficult process. I think it has cost me, if not credibility, a lot of grey hair.
You are a brave man.
I am (taking on ideology) in some ways because the environmental movement has an ideological opposition to genetically modified crops. It is not based on science, it is not based on any rational assessment of risks and benefits. It is something about the fear of new technology, the fear of the 'new'. And when these fears become widely believed, people believe all sorts of myths about GM being poisonous, about causing sterility. And the scientists cannot understand why these myths have become so pervasive. They are now worldwide.
Describe this ideology and compare this with religious ideology, as you see it.
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