This video has been going around and Neil deGrasse Tyson definitely makes a good argument in favor of GMOs – “Chill Out!”
A lot of really good articles popped up after this video made the rounds last week. There isn’t much I could add to the discussion myself, but I really appreciated “Why Neil deGrasse Tyson’s Dismissal of Anti-GMO Concerns Matters.” The author does a great job exploring the political party dynamic regarding the issue of biotech. Thus far, we have not seen much (if any) involvement from key political players in either of the two mainstream parties. At the very least, this limits how far the anti-GMO agenda can go.
However, this was not the end of the story. It turns out – unsurprisingly – that the anti-GMO people let Tyson know exactly how they felt about his stance and it was not pretty. Tyson responded late last week with a rather long statement. Unfortunately, he seemed to back peddle a bit by suggesting that he never said GMOs were safe or properly regulated. He also brought up an interesting point that other types of foods can cause allergic reactions (read: peanuts), but we do not expect a label on everything that may have traces of peanuts.
He also made this connection:
Imagine if today, scientists showed you the Aurochs Wild Ox, and said — “Give us time. In just a few years, we will genetically modify this wild animal, turning it into a different sub species whose sole purpose is to provide vast quantities of milk for humans to drink. They will produce 10x as much milk as did the original animal. But they will require vast grasslands to sustain. And some of you will get sick because you won’t be able to digest the lactose. But no need to label this fact. People will just figure this out on their own. The rest of you will be fine. We’ll call the result a Holstein Milk Cow.”
What would anti GMO-laboratory people say this story? Would they embrace it or reject it? Of course, over the past 10,000 years, this is exactly what we’ve done to that Ox – or whatever is the agreed-upon origin of the domesticated Cow. Call it GMO-agriculture. If you reject GMOs you fundamentally reject it all.
Of course, I appreciate the last line. Everything in agriculture has been changing and we’ve always been trying to make it better. In some ways, it would be very careless of us if we did not try to adapt and use technology to move forward.
Tyson appears ready to hang up the banner on GMOs, however. He concluded his statement by saying: “I have nothing more to add. Or to subtract. On to other topics for me.”
Maybe time for something much less controversial. It can be a tough crowd, trust me. 😉
You can see his full statement on his Facebook page.