October 23, 2014

Why Do GMOs Matter? Let Bill Nye Explain. {Video}

Screen Shot 2014-10-25 at 3.58.06 PM

We all remember Bill Nye the Science Guy, or at least most of the people in my generation do.

He’s the smart, if wacky, scientist who made it big by making science fun to kids. But he’s more than just a TV show host, he’s freakin’ brilliant, and he’s a crusader for science and education.

In this video, he explains why GMOs (genetically modified organisms) are an environmental issue. It may be true that we’ve been genetically modifying plants and animals for centuries.

After all, that’s why we have plant foods like corn and watermelon in the form that we do today, and it’s also why we have so many breeds of dogs and other domestic animals. We’ve engineered these foods to feed our growing population and bread these animals to be our best friends, and to be the kind of furry friends that can survive apartment and city life.

So, what’s the problem now?

It sounds like we’ve been GMO-ing things all over the place ever since we’ve been human. But…the modern kind of genetic modification is a little more extreme than it has been in the past. We have accelerated the process, and we’re now capable of making the kinds of genetic modifications that were never possible before (glow in the dark bunnies, anyone?).

If you still think GMOs aren’t an important issue, listen to Bill explain it. He’s better at it than me any day.


We should want these things labeled. Not because genetically modified foods are evil and part of some crazy conspiracy to make us dumb and control us. It’s an issue for the conscious consumer, it should be our right to know the impact of our food buying choices. It should be our responsibility to make those choices in an informed and mindful way.


Love elephant and want to go steady?

Sign up for our (curated) daily and weekly newsletters!


Editor: Catherine Monkman

Photo: Screen Shot

You must be logged in to post a comment. Create an account.

Kathryn Oct 24, 2014 2:09pm

Thanks so much for your wonderful comment! I totally agree with you, and yes, GMOs are a complex issue. I think For Neil Degrasse Tyson, like many other people, he's conflating his terms. Of course we've been modifying species for generations, but what we're doing with modern science is a different breed of animal entirely. We're able to make changes that were never possible before, and we're able to make them faster than species can possibly adapt. It's a separate subject. It's just a pity that the language doesn't allow for such clarity.

Paul Oct 24, 2014 1:33pm

What a minute! Are you saying that I could be putting ethynol in my car engine that comes from genetically modified corn?? NOW we've crossed the line. Do NOT mess with my car.

Karissa Oct 24, 2014 12:36pm

This is what I was expecting from Neil Degrasse Tyson. I was so disappointing when he gave his misinformed opinion that the modification that is being done now is equivalent to what has been done for thousands of years. Breeding pesticides with food is not an age old tradition. Nor is AquAdvantage salmon. It is new science and we (and the environment) are the test subjects regarding the safety. It is a major peeve when people accuse those who advocate for GMO labeling as being anti-science. Science is exploring and expanding our knowledge of our surroundings. Blindly accepting whatever we are told by certain scientists is not science. It is a behavior comparable to religion. If something new is presented to us, should we not investigate it for ourselves? Should we not investigate the people who tell us to trust them and not question whatever information they are handing us? Knowing the power that money has over the food industry, we have even more incentive to question the corporations who tell us GMO's are proven safe. Proven by who? By their own dollars. Do we really expect them to tell us that their research has shown their products to be unsafe? And then when independent research emerges regarding questionable safety results, it is bashed as foolish nonsense. I applauded Tysons stance on global warming and how informed he was regarding the falsity of the climate-deniers claims. I was expecting the same informed comment regarding GMO's. His naivety was surprising and disappointing. Thankfully, there is Bill Nye the Science Guy.

Read Elephant’s Best Articles of the Week here.
Readers voted with your hearts, comments, views, and shares:
Click here to see which Writers & Issues Won.

K.L. Muyskens

K.L. Muyskens is a student of life. She loves learning about health, history, and even food. She has more than one activist bone in her body. She enjoys traveling the globe, is an incessant reader, and lover of animals, especially dogs.