God of the science nerds, Neil deGrasse Tyson, has played the voice of reason time and time again. He’s explained the inner-workings of the cosmos and, at the same time, helped the folks at the Daily Show change the earth’s rotation. He also apparently is tired of anti-GMO folks.
“Practically every food you buy in a store, for consumption by humans, is genetically modified food,” deGrasse Tyson says. Manipulating corn genes in a laboratory is no different than the hundreds of years of livestock and produce farming that agriculture has built empires on. In both cases, no matter the context in which it happens, Tyson says, we are committing “artificial selection.” We are cherry picking the juiciest, largest, most delicious foods and interrupting nature’s course for our own enjoyment.
There are no wild seedless watermelons, he says. Nor are their wild cows or wild long-stemmed roses, though, as he helpfully points out, “we don’t eat roses.” Indeed, what anti-GMO crowds call nutritional heresy — people in white coats improving the food we eat — is really a smarter extension of what has been going on for decades.
“We have systematically genetically modified all the foods, vegetable and animals, ever since we cultivated them,” he said. “If you’re the complainer type, go back and eat the apples that grow wild. They’re this big” — Tyson creates a circle no larger than a golf ball — “and they’re tart. They’re not sweet like red delicious apples.”
Constantly, in fact, are we modifying the natural world to satisfy our human desires. Is it selfish? Yes. But is it harmful? Loads of science, and now one of its deities, say “No.”