Neil deGrasse Tyson, astrophysicist and Cosmos star, took a stand on genetically modified foods in a video posted online recently. In response to a question by a French reporter, Tyson came out strongly in support of food biotechnology, saying he is “amazed how much objection genetically modified foods are receiving from the public.” In the video, viewed over half a million times, Tyson makes the point that practically every food we eat has been improved by mankind:
When I think of the future of genetic engineering, I imagine new and innovative varieties of food. I envision crops that practically grow themselves come rain or come shine. I hope for foods that are specifically tailored to an individual's nutritional needs, apples that don't turn brown when sliced or perhaps even a grocery store tomato that actually tastes good.
Gardening seems like the most crime-free activity in the history of mankind. It’s not only slow and relaxing; it’s hard to imagine little old ladies with giant floppy hats getting themselves into any trouble worth being arrested for. But things are not always as they seem in the garden.
You may know it as an “eggplant,” but in Bangladesh, where it is considered a staple crop, it goes by the name “brinjal.” Last year, a biotech variety of the purple fruit, meant to resist attacks from insects, was approved for cultivation in Bangladesh.
Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev recently told a group of leaders from rural settlements that when it comes to food technology, he will be calling the shots. Sneering at the success of biotechnology in America, he declared his decision that farmers and consumers will not be able to import or grow the most technologically advanced crops.
J.R. Simplot, a company that produces over 3 billion pounds of potatoes each year, hopes to soon add a genetically engineered variety to their roster. Simplot’s new “Innate” potato is similar to conventional spuds, but borrows DNA from five varieties of potatoes, giving it some desirable traits.