Understanding GMOs and the Future of Food

A scene from “Food Evolution” directed by Scott Hamilton Kennedy. Photo courtesy of Black Valley Films.
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About This Episode

What’s in our food? Where does our food come from? Should we be worried about the future of food? Neil deGrasse Tyson and co-host Chuck Nice are here to dive into the science of GMOs, Genetically Modified Organisms, and the future of food with plant geneticist Pamela Ronald and documentary filmmaker Scott Hamilton Kennedy, the co-writer and director of Food Evolution, which is narrated by Neil. Discover how long GMOs have been a factor in agriculture and where Scott thinks the anxiety surrounding GMOs started. You’ll hear why Pamela believes “GMOs” is not a very useful term for advancing discussions on sustainable agriculture. Learn more about genetic engineering, and the relationship between organic farmers and genetically modified foods. You’ll also find out about the development of Food Evolution, Neil’s involvement in the film, where Scott got funding for the project, and the film’s mission to present science communication and data correctly. Explore the Seralini study, the banana blight in Uganda, the papaya crisis in Hawai’i, the eggplant crop in Bangladesh, and how the outlook on each event shaped the world’s view of GMOs. All that plus we’ll investigate the legality of pollen being spread from farm to farm, and Scott explains why the discussion of genes in our food is a distraction from the real problem.

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  • EdChesterfield

    This was informative, but there were two questions I had which were not at all addressed.
    1) What about monoculture? As I understand it, as GMO seeds improve, growers could potential stop the historically good process of rotating crops and planting diverse crops close by. “Hey, these soy beans keep coming up, no need to plant this less profitable rye!” Should we be concerned about this?
    2) Pesticide usage. OK, so you’ve developed a pesticide resistant crop. That’s nice, but then aren’t we spraying a lot of pesticide onto the ground? That doesn’t sound like an optimal solution. But, again, I don’t know enough to know for sure.

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