Science and the GMO Debate

This past spring, we wrote about Bill Nye the Science Guy and how he changed his mind about GMOs. As someone who was previously against GMO foods and crops, he spent some time with scientists to learn more. After his experience in the lab, he found that the science showed GMOs are safe and even beneficial to food production and the environment.

Mark Lynas, a well-respected British writer and environmentalist, joined his ranks a couple years ago. After spending years as an anti-GMO activist, Lynas looked into the science of GMOs and changed his mind. He is now speaking out against GMO cultivation bans in Europe.

In a recent New York Times article, Lynas said that European bans on cultivating GMO crops “… expose the worrying reality of how far Europe has gone in setting itself against modern science.”

He explains that these European bans are not actually based in science, but in the fear that surrounds anti-GMO rhetoric. In fact, Scottish leadership said the decision was based on image and not science. He explains:

“A spokeswoman for Nicola Sturgeon, the leader of the Scottish National Party, admitted that the first minister’s science adviser had not been consulted because the decision ‘wasn’t based on scientific evidence.’ Instead, the priority was to protect the ‘clean, green image’ of the country’s produce, according to the secretary for rural affairs, food and environment.”

Lynas made his transition from anti- to pro-GMO in 2013 when he spoke to the Oxford Farming Conference at Oxford University and apologized for the years he spent campaigning against GMOs.

A case study that motivated Lynas to change his mind about the technology was the “saga of golden rice.” Nearly a quarter-million children die each year from a vitamin A deficiency in developing countries, especially those in South Asia. A new rice was developed using GMO technology that was enhanced with vitamin A. The anti-GMO movement developed a campaign to prevent the rice from ever being developed.

Even though we know GMOs are safe, we also support choice. We know our families, friends and neighbors need to make the best choices for themselves and their own families. Want to learn more about GMOs before making the decision for your family? We have gathered some resources to help you do just that:

Learn more about GMOs by visiting our biotechnology page and check out our blog for the latest food and farming news. In the meantime, if you have a question for a South Dakota farmer, feel free to submit it to the Contact Us section of our website or leave us a comment.