That’s not to say that organic farming has nothing to offer, he points out. “There are many good techniques that have been developed, such as intercropping and companion planting, which can be environmentally very effective, even it they do tend to be highly labor-intensive. Principles of agro-ecology such as recycling nutrients and promoting on-farm diversity should also be taken more seriously.”

But the organic movement is in the way of progress when it refuses to allow innovation, he says. “Using GM as the most obvious example, many third-generation GM crops allow us not to use environmentally damaging chemicals because the genome of the crop in question has been altered so the plant can protect itself from pests. Why is that not organic?”

This “think quackery,” as he calls it, isn’t confined to the organic crops versus GM crops debate, he adds. It shows up in the argument against climate change and in the anti-vaccine movement. “My concern is environmentalists are seen as the enemy by farmers, and we need to get everyone at the same table to solve the real problems.”


To hear or read Lynas’ speech, go to: