Bill Nye the Science Guy wants to label GMOs for a surprising reason

Employees stock shelves near a sign supporting non genetically modified organisms (GMO) at the Central Co-op in Seattle, Washington October 29, 2013. REUTERS/Jason RedmondThomson ReutersBill Nye wants to see signs that read ‘Proudly GMO.’

Bill Nye the Science Guy has a lot to say about GMOs.

Since flipping his stance on them recently (he said he opposed them in his latest book, then changed his mind after visiting a lab where they were produced), Nye has taken a stab at explaining his new view.

In the second of a two-part series for StarTalk Radio recently, he said that although he’s in favour of GMOs, he would also support the idea of labelling them. This idea has been very controversial in pro-GMO circles, with supporters of GM food saying it could unfairly steer customers away from buying them.

But Nye doesn’t think we should label GMOs as a warning.

Instead, he thinks we should do it as a marketing strategy.

Co-host Chuck Nice asked why corporations push back against labelling genetically modified produce, and Nye gave this response:

“I told those people at Monsanto … I told them, why don’t you just put on there ‘proudly GMO?’ Go for it. … Let the market sort it out.”

In other words, Nye thinks people would buy GMOs regardless of the label. In fact, he thinks GMOs have a shot at selling better than organic foods, because they tend to be cheaper and more nutritious. A lot of the food we eat is already genetically modified: According to the USDA, 94% of soybeans and 92% of corn were genetically engineered this year. So if companies simply put all the cards on the table and let consumers figure it out for themselves, GMO foods would do just fine, Nye suspects.

In the past year, Nye has dramatically changed his own opinion on GMOs. He originally took a stance against genetic modification because he was concerned scientists didn’t have a good idea of their longterm effects on the ecosystem.

But as he started to explain last week, he changed his mind after seeing firsthand how research behind today’s plant engineering is moving at what he calls an acceptable pace: Not too fast that it will get ahead of itself, but not too slow where there are too many questions left unanswered.

All of these changes came only after meeting with scientists at the companies who make genetically modified products, including Monsanto and Pioneer Seed, two of the leading GM corporate giants. Anti-GMO activists have called this development questionable.

Listen to the full podcast to hear more of Nye’s opinions about GMOs, including what he thinks of genetically modified animals.

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