Astrophysicist and Cosmos host Neil deGrasse Tyson blasted critics of genetically modified foods — often referred to as GMOs — in a video recently posted online, saying they are part of a longstanding process of humans altering the planet’s biology to serve our needs, Mother Jones reported.
“I’m amazed how much rejection genetically modified foods are receiving from the public,” deGrasse Tyson tells a French interviewer. “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 so therefore reject it.”
What most people do not know, Tyson argued, was that almost any food bought in stores today has been modified before making it to the shelves.
“There are no wild, seedless watermelons. There’s no wild cows,” he said. “There’s no long-stemmed 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.”
Instead, he said, humans have employed artificial selection to modify their foods ever since they began cultivating them.
“We are creating and modifying the biology of the world to serve our needs,” deGrasse Tyson said. “I don’t have a problem with that, because we’ve been doing that for tens of thousands of years. So chill out.”
As Mother Jones notes, however, critics of GMOs often cite their opposition to techniques like genetic manipulation being used in foods.
This past May, legislators in California rejected a bill that would have required labels for foods made using GMOs, for the second year in a row. Only Vermont has approved such requirements.
Watch deGrasse Tyson’s remarks, as posted online, below.