AN Oxford environmental author who renounced his opposition to genetically modified (GM) crops has hit back at “lunatic” critics.

Wolvercote’s Mark Lynas says he has been subjected to a raft of criticism and accusations since he backed GM foods.

The 39-year-old’s speech at this month’s Oxford Farming Conference has been downloaded 250,000 times and translated into five languages.

He apologised for helping to start the anti-GM movement in the mid-1990s and “demonising” the technology.

More than 500 people have posted comments on his website including accusations he is in the pay of GM companies.

However, branding his critics a “lunatic” fringe, Mr Lynas responded, saying: “I am not in the pay of GM companies and did not even receive any money for the speech.

“ I find that allegation offensive and indicative of the lack of argument from the other side. “I think we have crossed the tipping point where it is now understood by just about everyone that GM foods are safe.”