Sorting out GMOs

By Joan Conrow

May 16, 2018

Author Mark Lynas, a one-time anti-GMO activist turned biotech advocate, is featured in an interview on Wisconsin Public Radio.

The 42-minute program starts with a segment on how Wisconsin organic farmers are losing faith in the USDA organic label. Some are disgruntled by the inclusion of hydroponic operations in the organic certification standards, while a farmer who grows hydroponically feels the USDA organic symbol has lost meaning.

It then moves on to an interview with Lynas, who has just released a new book, “Seeds of Science: Why We Got It So Wrong on GMOs.” The book, which will be released in the US on June 26, offers “the inside story of the fight for and against genetic modification in food, from someone who’s been on the front line of both sides of the argument.”

Listen to the interview here, story continues below:


Lynas discusses the definition of GMOs, as well as the USDA proposal for labeling genetically modified foods in the United States. He delves into mono-cropping and the economic efficiencies of modern farming, as well as patents and intellectual property property rights before moving on the decline of monarch butterflies.

The interview is punctuated with some thoughtful call-in questions and comments from the listening audience. This gives Lynas the opportunity to dispel various myths, including the belief that genetic modification is responsible for gluten intolerance — there is no GM wheat, and in fact, gene editing is being used to develop a gluten-free variety of wheat.

Lynas discusses the various environmental and animal welfare tradeoffs in agriculture, and the overall complexities of the issue, as well as how anti-GMO activism is adversely impacting food security in developing nations.

The program includes audio snippets from the Jimmy Kimmel video, What is a GMO?, which underscores how little people really know about the technology.

Lynas concludes by mentioning his peace plan for resolving the conflict around GMOs and reaffirms the shared goals of reducing pesticide use, improving yields and ensuring that everyone has enough to eat.