Recently, Bill Nye (the Science Guy) visited Monsanto, and after spending time with their scientists, he has decided to revise the chapter on genetically modified foods in his book Undeniable: Evolution and the Science of Creation.
In the first edition of the book, which came out in November of 2014, Nye argued that we couldn’t rule out potential environmental or health hazards of GMO crops down the line and essentially came down against them. After looking more closely at the science, though, he’s decided that they’re okay for now and can even be better for the environment and for human consumption than non-GMO crops.
Genetically modified crops are not new. Humans have been selectively breeding plants for nearly 10,000 years, since the advent of agriculture, in order to get the largest, best tasting, and easiest to grow crops we can. The corn you buy in the grocery store or at a farmer’s market doesn’t exist in nature. The difference between these food sources and GMO crops is that the process of creating them took much longer. Scientists can create modern genetically modified food in a couple of years instead of a couple millennia.
Numerous studies have shown that the GMO crops on the market are safe to eat. They’re designed to need fewer pesticides—which is good for the environment—and to grow larger and quicker. All these things result in more abundant, cheaper food, which is great for people who don’t have a lot of money. “Organic” crops grown on small farms that use only natural fertilizers and the like are great, but they can also be very expensive, being priced out of the range of lower income families, who need access to those fruits and vegetables.
Bill Nye is doing what scientists are supposed to do: drawing conclusions based on evidence, and modifying those conclusions when faced with new evidence. The revised edition of Undeniable, with the new chapter on GMOs, doesn’t have a publication date yet, but is expected to be out in the fall of 2015.