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A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

 Abigail Seiler, 202-547-9359,

What Bill Nye Got Wrong in His About-Face on GMOs

New article from Drs. Doug Gurian-Sherman and Margaret Mellon show how The Science Guy’s errors let the biotech industry off the hook


In a new article published at Civil Eats, Dr. Doug Gurian-Sherman, Director of Sustainable Agriculture and Senior Scientist at Center for Food Safety, and Dr. Margaret Mellon, Science Consultant, critique Bill Nye's recent comments in support of genetically engineered (GE) crops. The prominent science educator recently changed his position on the crop technology after a visit to Monsanto's agricultural facilities. But based on his recent video, his turn-about is based, at least in part, on serious factual errors.

From the article:

"Nye is an emblematic science educator, who has done a lot to kindle the interest of young people in science, to defend the validity of evolutionary science, and raise awareness about climate change. Until recently, he spoke and wrote about GMOs as environmentally risky technology...

So what did Nye learn at Monsanto headquarters that changed his mind? In a recent interview with The Huffington Post, Nye said that he does not believe genetically engineered crops are inherently bad. To the contrary, he said he now believes that they have been beneficial to agriculture.


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To illustrate his point, he explained that GMO crops 'put the herbicides and pesticide inside the plant, rather than spraying it on them and having it run down into streams.'

In the case of herbicides, Nye is simply incorrect, and it's an important error to point out."

The article corrects this and other inaccurate statements about pesticide use on GE crops and water pollution, and their impact on monarch butterflies, made by Nye in his explanatory video. It also notes that so far, GE crops are actually contributing to the kind of industrial agriculture that Nye decries.

The debate about genetically engineered crops has suffered from hyperbole and incorrect information from all sides. So far, Nye's analysis suffers from serious factual errors and omissions that mostly confuse rather than enlighten.

Gurian-Sherman and Mellon conclude: "Everyone has a right to change their minds. But Nye is an important science educator who could contribute positively to the understanding of the complex issues swirling around the GMO debate. Either way, if he's going wade into the debate, he has to get the science right."

Read the point by point critique here:

Center for Food Safety's mission is to empower people, support farmers, and protect the earth from the harmful impacts of industrial agriculture. Through groundbreaking legal, scientific, and grassroots action, we protect and promote your right to safe food and the environment. CFS's successful legal cases collectively represent a landmark body of case law on food and agricultural issues.

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