Bill Nye caused a bit of drama over his stance on GMOs with the publication of his recent book, Undeniable: Evolution and the Science of Creation. Biologists were dismayed by some of the unsourced claims he was making, and what seemed to be a failure to investigate the science on this issue.
Recently, we found out that Bill was revising his stance and his book. Soon after that, Bill also enthused about his own change of mind backstage at the Bill Maher show. However, this was light on the details of what his new stance actually was, and waiting for the new edition of the book would take a while.
Luckily, we just had an opportunity to learn more about Bill’s thoughts. I attended the recent NECSS conference in New York City, where Nye participated in several events.
Bill explains the backstory to his position on GMOs. He emphasizes the words “modified” and “safe” as key concepts to this issue. Nye notes that we’ve been modifying plants for 10,000 years and that there’s nothing natural about farming. He notes that in the EU that the GMO issue was conflated with an unrelated food safety scare. Then he turns to his concerns about unintended consequences of the environmental impacts of GMOs. He details his understanding of glyphosate function. Then he turns to the issue of the Monarch butterflies. He acknowledges that the loss of habitat from urban development and milkweed loss are impacting the butterflies.
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