Let’s face it – if agriculture in the early 21st century has one whipping boy among the general public, it’s biotechnology. For many, many years now, opponents of the use of biotech crops have called into question their safety, looked for every bit of negative news to spread and sued the federal government to prevent new kinds of biotech crops from gaining marketplace approval.
But in recent months, biotech crops have finally received some much needed love from the public. In November, voters in California soundly defeated Proposition 37, which would have required foods made with biotech crops to carry separate labels. In December, Discover magazine reported that researchers in China have found evidence that the use of biotech cotton in that country has not only reduced pesticide usage up to 60%, but led to better overall eco-systems in the field as the populations of beneficial insects have grown.
And now, a one-time enemy has admitted he was wrong about biotech crops. At last year’s Oxford Farming Conference, long-time biotech opponent Mark Lynas publicly apologized for his anti-biotech crop stance.
“I am sorry that I helped to start the anti-biotech movement back in the mid-1990s,” said Lynas. “As an environmentalist, and someone who believes that everyone in this world has a right to a healthy and nutritious diet of their choosing, I could not have chosen a more counterproductive path. I now regret it completely.” He went on the say that science (and its ongoing research into proving the safety of biotech crops) has helped change his mind.
Truthfully, these are just a few small steps in long road biotech crops have faced since their introduction back in the mid-1990s. But small steps will most assuredly be followed by bigger ones down the line.