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May 9th, 2018 / Washington Post, US

n keeping with our era of ideological boycotts, I will no longer be purchasing Kind bars. Or Barilla pasta. Or Triscuit crackers. Or Del Monte diced tomatoes. Or Nutro dog food.

A one-person boycott, of course, is really just a change in your shopping list. But the companies that produce these brands are guilty of crimes against rationality. All advertise on their packaging, in one way or another, that they don’t contain GMOs — genetically modified organisms. Walking down the aisle of my supermarket, I could have picked many other examples. Some food companies seem to be saying that GMO ingredients are not even fit for your dog.

My boycott is rooted in the fact that there is no reputable scientific evidence that direct genetic modification — instead of slower genetic modification through selective breeding — has any health effects of any kind. None. Here is a 2016 analysis of about 1,000 studies by the National Academy of Sciences: “The committee concluded that no differences have been found that implicate a higher risk to human health safety from these [Genetically Engineered] foods than from their non-GE counterparts.” The NAS was joined in this judgment by the Royal Society, the French Academy of Science and the American Medical Association.

So why has Europe essentially banned GMOs? Why do many American food companies treat them like toxins?

Mark Lynas’s new book, “Seeds of Science: Why We Got It So Wrong on GMOs,” tells the story from a unique perspective. Lynas was an early anti-GMO activist in Britain — participating in everything from late-night crop destruction to delivering a pie in the face of Danish statistician Bjorn Lomborg. The logic of Lynas’s conversion is an implicit challenge to both the American right and the left. In an earlier book, “Six Degrees,” Lynas took a deep dive into climate science (winning the Royal Society’s 2008 Science Book Prize in the process). He found the scientific consensus on climate change to be compelling. But he found the evidence for the safety of GMOs to be at least as strong. “I couldn’t deny the scientific consensus on GMOs,” he writes, “while insisting on strict adherence to the one on climate change, and still call myself a science writer.”
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