Environmentalist and author Mark Lynas set out his Seven Point Peace Plan to further the future of farming and food to the Oxford Farming Conference audience. The last time Mark was on the OFC stage five years ago, he made his first public apology for his anti-GMO campaigning. Today, Mark, who said his life had changed dramatically since his U-turn, urged the audience to stop fighting and start uniting.
“I am increasingly convinced that genetic engineering can mitigate the problems of producing enough safe food to feed the world. So far GM has not significantly reduced fertiliser use, increased yields or fixed world hunger, but this is because it is blocked in developing countries where it is needed most.”
In Mark’s experience, where he has been trying to promote GMOs in developing countries to aid their agricultural operations, he has come up against mistrust. He puts this down to anti-GM groups suggesting genetically engineered food would spread paralysis and other disease.
From the stage, Mark called on agriculturalists to unite together to promote farming and food production – to produce safe food based on science; drop GMO bans and allow the consumer to make fully informed choices in the market place through rigorous labelling and full traceability; to “get over” Monsanto but also to make a serious effort to get off the chemical treadmill and move farming on to more sound ecological principles; to support public sector and non-corporate use of genetic engineering where these can clearly contribute to environmental sustainability and the public interest; to support all forms of agriculture that aim to find more ways towards sustainability; to agree to stop name calling, and being anti-science; to make ethical objections to genetic engineering central, and in the process recognise the real world trade off where we do and don’t use this technology.
“Lets continue to work together to build a shared vision of where we want farming to be in the 21st century: feeding the eight billion people, tackling climate change sustainable farming and protect the soil in the process. We also need to improve our yields to feed the growing population and ensure land can be protected for its biodiversity value and where possible be devoted to be rewilding. So lets stop fighting and start uniting.”
He finished with the words of Jo Cox, concluding “We have far more in common than that which divides us.”