In October 2015 former environmentalist Mark Lynas wrote an op-ed for the New York Times headlined Europe Turns Against Science. “Call it the “Coalition of the Ignorant,” he wrote. “By the first week of October, 17 European countries — including Austria, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, the Netherlands and Poland — had used new European Union rules to announce bans on the cultivation of genetically modified crops.”
Lynas, who is the political director for the pro-GMO lobby Cornell Alliance for Science at Cornell University, hilariously suggested the move was analogous to “Europe’s prohibiting the printing press in the 15th century.”
And he trotted out the GMO industry lie that: “The worldwide scientific consensus on the safety of genetic engineering is as solid as that which underpins human-caused global warming.”
Molecular geneticist Belinda Martineau (who helped develop the world’s first genetically engineered whole food, the Flavr Savr tomato) wrote a response to Lynas pointing out: “Making general claims about the safety of genetic engineering … (is) unscientific, illogical and absurd.”
He continued: “Because each product is different — not only in the ways genetic engineers design and expect them to be, but also by potentially containing unique unintended and unexpected changes — the safety of each one must be assessed individually.” And quoted the World Health Organization statement: “it is not possible to make general statements on the safety of all G.M. foods.”
Cornell University has been getting heat for their strident GMO propaganda. Their Cornell Alliance for Science makes absurd definitive statements like: “You are more likely to be hit by an asteroid than be hurt by GE food – and that’s not an exaggeration.” And “GE crops currently available to the public pose no greater health risks or environmental concerns than their non-engineered counterparts. This is not opinion.”
The Cornell program was launched in 2014 with a $5.6 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation with a goal to “depolarize the charged debate” about GMOs.
Alternet reported that in 2011, leaked documents were obtained from the Brussels-based EuropaBio, the continent’s “largest and most influential biotech industry group,” detailing an intricate plan to fracture the European green movement in hopes of undermining its near unanimous opposition to the biotech industry agenda.
EuropaBio’s members read like a who’s who of multinational pesticide and biotech corporations notorious for endangering human health, polluting the environment and deceiving the public. According to the leaked documents, Mark Lynas was one of the biotech industry’s most sought after “ambassadors” (i.e. undercover spokespeople).
The lobby group’s plan was to recruit high-profile, non-affiliated, “ambassadors” like Lynas to lobby European leaders to adopt more GE-friendly policies.
Lynas, by the way, has called glyphosate “benign.” I guess he didn’t read the studies pointing out the reverse.
As part of the GMO lobbying campaign the Boston Globe reported how a Monsanto executive told Harvard professor Calestous Juma to write a paper about how GMOs are needed to feed Africa. “Monsanto not only suggested the topic to professor Calestous Juma. It went so far as to provide a summary of what the paper could say and a suggested headline. The company then connected the professor with a marketing company to pump it out over the Internet as part of Monsanto’s strategy to win over the public and lawmakers,” Krantz wrote.
The Ecologist highlights an article “The War on Genetically Modified Food Critics,” by Tufts Professor Timothy Wise, who takes the media to task for falling for industry PR tactics and incorrectly reporting the science on GMO as “settled”.
“What we’re seeing is a concerted campaign to … paint GMO critics as anti-science while offering no serious discussion of the scientific controversy that still rages”, Wise wrote. One indicator of that campaign, he said, was the Gates Foundation award to Cornell to “depolarize” the debate over GM foods.
“The Gates Foundation is paying biotech scientists and advocates at Cornell to help them convince the ignorant and brainwashed public, who ‘may not be well informed,’ that they are ignorant and brainwashed … It’s kind of like depolarizing an armed conflict by giving one side more weapons”, Wise wrote.