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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 2/16/13

The Mark Lynas Mythology: The GMO "Conversion" NON-Story, By Zack Kaldveer

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More disturbing is the fact that NOBODY in the movement's early years has much of a recollection of Lynas at all. As Mathews reports, "Nobody we have spoken to among the many leading figures of the 1990s counts Lynas as either a founder or a leader. Indeed, if he was even involved in the grassroots actions of 1995-1996, then nobody we spoke to remembers it. Nor does he appear to have been at the founding meeting of the Genetic Engineering Network (GEN) in early 1997."

There were in fact a globally diverse list of renowned scientists, writers, non-profit organizations and advocates that represent the movement's actual founders -- dating as far back as the 1970's - whose work far preceded Mark Lynas even attending his first protest.  

In fact, there is little evidence to suggest Lynas was anything more than a peripheral, bit player in what was rapidly transforming into a vibrant international movement. Of Lynas's 50 published articles on "green issues" for the UK's Guardian only one mentioned GM crops and of the roughly 90 articles he wrote for the New Statesman , the topic of GMOs is nowhere to be found -- until that is, he wrote a pro- GMO one in January of 2010.

Further undermining Lynas's claims of helping co-found the movement was his admission last year that the single anti-gmo article he did write for the Guardian in 2008, he 'dashed off in 20 minutes without doing any research.'

And now, in explaining how, after years of "leading" the anti-gmo movement he would switch sides so completely, he says he just never really studied the issue . Does this sound like a "founder" or "leader" of anything? Such admissions suggest a profound lack of journalistic integrity -- making the media's undiscerning repetition of his "story" all the more inexplicable.

Lynas's 2010 "Conversion" Covered As Breaking News in 2013?

Among the many mysteries surrounding the vast scope and unabashedly positive press coverage the Lynas "non-story" enjoyed was that his actual conversion took place in January of 2010 .

His record of "pro-GMO" statements and writings throughout the three years leading up to last month are well documented, including an interview he gave in 2010 for a documentary film entitled "What Environmentalists Got Wrong" , articles he penned for national newspapers including The Times (UK) in 2011, a 2011 book he authored entitled the The God Species, and regular speaking engagements touting the wonders of GMO crops he gave at conferences across Europe in 2012. Not only was Lynas's claimed role in the anti-gmo movement a fairy tale, his January 3rd "conversion" was a three year old non-story -- until, that is, the press decided to serve as his dutiful stenographers.

Leaked Documents Link Lynas To Biotech Industry Lobby Group

In 2011, leaked documents were discovered 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 list boasts a who's who of multinational pesticide and biotech corporations notorious for endangering human health, polluting the environment, and deceiving the public, including Monsanto, Bayer, Dow, BASF, Eli Lilly, and Dupont. And according to the leaked documents, Mark Lynas was one of the biotech industries 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. That way, such spokespeople would be provided an undeserved aura of independence and objectivity. Lynas has denied being recruited by the lobby group -- though his January public relations stunt may as well have come straight from the EuropaBio leaked playbook.

The Real Story: A Growing Peoples Movement For Food Democracy and Freedom

This public relations stunt by an inconsequential reporter looking to make a name for himself earned the biotech industry a few days of good press.   But make no mistake; the "Mark Lynas mythology" will fade away into the dustbin of history.

What isn't going anywhere, is the growing people's movement demanding greater food transparency and freedom, a healthy and sustainable food and farming system, a green and equitable economy, a stable climate, and mandatory labeling of all foods that have been genetically engineered in a laboratory.

So if the press is looking to cover a real story, how about all the ways everyday people are taking on the $ multi-billion pesticide and biotech industries in a fight over the future of the food supply, such as:

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Zack Kaldveer is the Assistant Media Director for the Organic Consumers Association. Zack served as the Assistant Media Director for California's Prop 37 campaign (labeling of genetically modified foods) and was the former Communications Director (more...)
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