Friday, 11 January 2013

Mark Lynas - why all the fuss

Wow! Just wow! Ladies and gentlemen, we have a polemic. Some green-on-green! OK, it's related to GMO but clearly foreshadows the burgeoning debate on climate engineering. Most of you probably know about the punch up already: Mark Lynas (a 'neo-enviro') stood up in Oxford and admitted he had a Monbiotian conversion, had (shock) looked at some evidence and come out in favour of GMOs. This prompted a robust  response from the 'trads' especially eco-feminist Vandana Shiva, who's twitter rebuttal included an ill-timed (sickening, actually) comparison to encouraging rapists. I suspect several things have pissed off the old school, not least that he was one of their own. It's a bit like those poor folks who leave the scientologists and go public; everyone hates a splitter. The point is this - I'll embolden it for emphasis - they're on the same bloody side. Lynas's credentials as an environmentalist are clear. I'm quite sure Shiva's are too.

Neo's are characterized as traitors, shallow, quick-fixers, all too willing to embrace technology often associated with globalization and power. They see themselves as realists - pragmatists with solutions. Trad's are presented as 'fire and brimstone', pious, sanctimonious anti-science idealogues - out of touch, losing the fight and bereft of realistic ideas. They seem themselves as bastions (ahem, Guardians if you will), fighting the good fight, and the only real lovers/understanders of nature. If you think this schism is deep for GMO, imagine what CE will do. Lynas has already pinned his colours to the mast here, I suspect I could predict Shiva's! The current episode will look like a minor skirmish compared to what's ahead, I guarantee it. Why does this matter? Because we (yes, I count myself as an 'enviro', sorry) are in the minority here. Don't worry, so are those that do not value the environment and put their own greed above everything (we all know where they are), it's those that either don't understand or who don't care enough who make up the vast majority. When we do this to each other, we switch people off. We allow those that are wrong about climate change to flourish.

Environmentalists are incapable of admitting or embracing uncertainty - everything is black and white. Lynas's conversion was a complete one, from passionately opposed to worryingly advocative. I'm not calling for us to all kiss and make up, that would be pointless, unhelpful and impossible. I simply believe that basic standards of decency, thoughtfulness and objectivity should be applied to an evidence-based discussion.

1 comment:

  1. The simple point is that Mr Lynas, like many of his corporate peers, is giving his judgement based on the Monsanto hand-book "How to make speeches in support of GM foods." The fact is that they bear no relation to the reality as thousands of US farmers would tell him if he bothered to ask them. Why Big Ag and the Government Leaves Public Out of the Big GMO Food Debate!