Keith Kloor’s Discover: Will Bill Nye agree to debate Kevin Folta on GMOs?


At Discover blogger Keith Kloor’s invitation, University of Florida plant geneticist Kevin Folta wrote an open letter to Bill Nye after the pop science guru said he opposed genetically modified foods because the alleged ecological dangers they presented. The challenge has exploded across social media, in part because of Folta’s impeccable reputation for independence from industry on the GMO issue.

The GLP posts some excerpts from the letter as it appeared on Kloor’s site, but urges the reader to review the entire letter and the fascinating debate it has engendered directly on the Discover site.

Last week you published a new book, Undeniable, again covering the harm of science denial with regard to evolution. But then in the same text, and in later comments on Reddit, you expressed a belief-based criticism of agricultural biotechnology, or “GMO” technology. No evidence, just “here’s what I think” coupled to arguments from ignorance, and positions that lay perpendicular to the scientific consensus. Your logic and reasoning match the fallacies of climate and evolution deniers, the people you correctly criticize.

As a public scientist immersed in the biotech literature for 30 years, I am disheartened by your statements (so are many of my colleagues) as they do not reflect the current state of our scientific understanding. Let’s use public debate to articulate the science of this issue.

Read full, original blogOpen Letter to Bill Nye from a Plant Scientist

Folta also addressed the Nye debate controversy on his blog, Illumination.

I respect Bill Nye and his ability to connect science to people.  It is something I wish I did better and something I am learning by watching experts like Nye. In a perfect world Bill Nye might seek some experts out in LA to sit down and help him understand why his comments were incorrect, and maybe how they have damaging effects. Maybe he’ll come out and clarify his remarks and change his position.

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