Until recently Mark Lynas was best known, where he was known at all, as the author of several books on green issues. Then he became a social media sensation after apologizing for founding the anti-GM movement and so helping demonize GM crops in a way that spread around the world. However, Lynas never was remotely a founder, or a main-mover, of the anti-GM movement.
Here are some of the misleading statements that Lynas has triggered with his claims about his anti-GM activism, including examples taken from articles and interviews published by the BBC, The Sunday Times, The Observer, The New York Times, The Australian and The New Yorker.
Claims made directly by Mark Lynas
"I am also sorry that I helped start the anti-GM movement back in the 90s."
Speech at The Oxford Farming Conference, 3 January 2013
"I really was one of the founders of the early movement."
Speech at the John Innes Centre, Norwich, 4 December 2012
Led to JIC press release after OFC: Co-founder of anti-GM movement Mark Lynas calls for evidence to replace instinct in GM debate, 7 January 2013
Claims made in interviews with Mark Lynas (i.e. where he could have offered a correction or clarification to the interviewer, but didn't)
"One of the most outspoken influential activists who helped spur the anti-GMO movement has changed his mind."
Anti-GMO activist has change of heart, RT America (US TV channel), 7 January 2013
"You really became one of the Godfathers of this movement."
Anti-GMO activist has change of heart, RT America, 7 January 2013
"You were one of the leaders of the anti-GM campaign in the UK."
Steven Sackur, Hardtalk, BBC World Service, 30 January 2013
Written about Mark Lynas following his Norwich and Oxford talks. (We have seen no evidence that Lynas has ever tried to correct any of these false claims about his importance to the anti-GM movement)
"This view is shared by Mark Lynas, an environmental campaigner and one of the founders of the anti-GM crop movement."
Robin McKie, After 30 years, is a GM food breakthrough finally here?, The Observer, 2 February 2013
"An environmentalist who helped launch the campaign against genetically modified food has been subjected to a tide of personal attacks after renouncing his former beliefs and insisting that the world needs GM food to avoid famine."
James Gillespie, Turncoat hails GM food a world saviour, The Sunday Times, 13 January 2013
"You may not recognize the name but this global leader who formerly opposed GMOs recently publicly reversed his position on the importance of technology and modern agriculture at a conference in England in early January 2013."
"The 2013 William A. Stewart Public Lecture" to be given by Mark Lynas on 4 April 2013 in Ontario, Canada
"If you fear genetically modified food, you may have Mark Lynas to thank. By his own reckoning, British environmentalist helped spur the anti-GMO movement in the mid-90s..."
Torie Bosch, Leading Environmental Activist's Blunt Confession: I Was Completely Wrong To Oppose GMOs, Slate, January 3 2013
"...the British writer and environmentalist who once helped drive Europe's movement against genetically engineered crops..."
Andy Revkin, New Shade of Green: Stark Shift for Onetime Foe of Genetic Engineering in Crops, New York Times, 4 January 2013
"One of founders of anti-GM movement, he helped develop the anti-gm narrative still in use today."
John Innes Centre press release: Co-founder of anti-GM movement Mark Lynas calls for evidence to replace instinct in GM debate, 7 January 2013
"Lynas had been a leading voice against using genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in farming."
Mark Tercek, Mark Lynas and the GMO Debate, 7 January 2013
"Britain has been at the forefront of the anti-GMO movement and Lynas has been its philosopher and spokesman."
Jon Entine, Genetic Literacy Project, 7 January 2013
"Few opponents [of GM crops] have been more militant or effective than Mark Lynas..."
Michael Specter, An Environmentalist's Conversion, The New Yorker, 8 January 2013
"Mr Lynas' uncompromising [pro-GM] stance… has considerable credibility, as he was a self-confessed founder of the anti-GM movement"
Modify or die, The Scottish Farmer, 10 January 2013
"Mark Lynas has apologized for his past history of demonizing transgenic crops and masterminding the anti-biotechnology campaign."
Calestous Juma, Persecuting Biotechnology, 11 January 2013
"Voice of anti-GM campaign says he was wrong…"
Headline of article about Lynas in the Indian Express, 13 January 2013
"A leading anti-GM activist's apology holds lessons for India"
Headline of article about Lynas in Live Mint and The Wall Street Journal (India), 14 January 2013
"Road to Damascus change for anti-GM apostle Mark Lynas"
Headline of article about Lynas in Delta Farm Press, 15 January 2013
"British environmentalist, Mark Lynas, one of the first leaders of the anti-GM movement in the mid-90s...
Lynas... said he had slowly realised it was inconsistent with his reliance on evidence-based science and scientific knowledge to argue that climate change is a reality while simultaneously leading an inherently "anti-science" movement that demonised genetic modification of crops.
...Lynas acknowledged that the campaign he had helped co-ordinate and wage in the 90s had been remarkably successful. The images of mad scientists in laboratories secretly tinkering with the building blocks of life to create "Frankenstein food" were picked up by Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth and other environmental groups. Growing GM crops was banned in many parts of Europe, India, Asia and Africa."
Sue Neales, An Inconvenient Truth, The Australian, 18 January 2013
"Lynas also claims to be an environmentalist who played a role in founding the anti-GM movement in India, though one had not heard of his existence here till a fortnight ago."
GM science is caught between extremes of faith and denial, Daily Mail (India), 23 January 2013
"In the world of environmental activism Mark Lynas was god. When he said something it was heard with rapt attention for its sheer gravitas. An ardent and sometimes militant opponent of genetically modified crops, he literally [!] nuked the movement he had once so carefully nurtured by doing a volte face at a farming conference in Oxford."
R Swaminathan, Duflo, Lynas highlight existential crisis of Indian activism, Governance Now (India), 24 January 2013