Food Evolution: Search for the Truth
Sep 21, 2017
By Craige Mackenzie: Methven, New Zealand
As a farmer in New Zealand, I have no access to genetically modified crops. Our legislation does not allow us to grow them on our island nation.
So I was eager to learn more about GMOs on my recent trip to the United States—and I jumped at the chance to see “Food Evolution,” a new documentary narrated by Neil deGrasse Tyson.
If you want an excellent introduction to the science behind GMOs, watch “Food Evolution.” In about an hour and half, it teaches more about food, farming, and biotechnology than you’re likely to learn from a week of web browsing.
My screening took place last month at the National Academy of Sciences in Washington, D.C. It proved to be a perfect setting. Right outside the building is a memorial to Albert Einstein—a large bronze statue of the great scientist.
He’s seated on a bench, which features a quote: “The right to search for truth implies also a duty; one must not conceal any part of what one has recognized to be true.”
What a refreshing statement. Too often, politics trumps science. People with slanted agendas manipulate facts and fears to push an ideology.
So we’re left with stunning disparities about what scientists know and what the public believes. “Food Evolution” cites a survey: 88 percent of scientists say GMOs are safe to eat, but only 37 percent of the American public shares this view. (The ultimate source for this data is a 2015 poll by the Pew Research Center.)
What accounts for this big difference? I’m not an expert on U.S. public opinion, but I know that in New Zealand, many people closed their minds to GMOs a long time ago, worried that they weren’t safe to consume, that they would negatively impact our environment or that multinational corporations were trying to foist them upon us.
“Food Evolution” addresses it all: Science shows us that GMOs are safe to eat, and the major beneficiaries include small farmers in developing nations.
It helps that Neil deGrasse Tyson narrates the documentary. He’s one of America’s most popular and trusted scientists—an astrophysicist who directs the Hayden Planetarium at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City, the host of the television series “Cosmos,” and a public intellectual who specializes in scientific subjects.
Yet the real power of “Food Evolution” comes from its…