Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, perhaps the country’s most famous scientist, has a message for critics of genetically modified foods: “Chill out.”
We have been genetically modifying food for “tens of thousands of years,” he points out, and there’s no reason to fear GMO foods created in a lab any more than seedless fruits created through selective breeding. GMO technology might scare people, he suggests, simply because “people don’t fully understand it.”
Tyson may not be a GMO expert, but the National Academy of Sciences, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the European Commission all agree with him on the safety of GMO foods. So does the research.
Here is his answer, in full:
I’m amazed how much objection genetically modified foods are receiving from the public. It smacks of the fear factor that exists at every new emergent science, where people don’t fully understand it or don’t fully know or embrace its consequences, and therefore reject it. What most people don’t know, but they should, is that practically every food you buy in a store for consumption by humans is genetically modified food.
There are no wild seedless watermelons; there’s no wild cows; there’s no long-stem roses growing in the wild — although we don’t eat roses. You list all the fruit, and all the vegetables, and ask yourself: Is there a wild counterpart to this? If there is, it’s not as large, it’s not as sweet, it’s not as juicy, and it has way more seeds in it.
We have systematically genetically modified all the foods, the vegetables and animals, that we have eaten ever since we cultivated them. It’s called “artificial selection.” That’s how we genetically modify them. So now that we can do it in a lab, all of a sudden you’re going to complain?
If you’re the complainer type, go back and eat the apples that grow wild. You know something? They’re this big, and they’re tart. They’re not sweet, like Red Delicious apples. We manufactured those. That’s a genetic modification.
Do you realise silk cannot be produced in the wild? The silkworm, as we cultivate it, has no wild counterpart because it would die in the wild. So there’s not even any silk anymore. So we are creating and modifying the biology of the world to serve our needs. I don’t have a problem with that, cause we’ve been doing that for tens of thousands of years. So chill out.
And here’s the video:
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