By Kent Heckenlively, JD
It is with a heavy heart I must challenge Bill Nye, “the Science Guy” once one of my idols, to a debate regarding his dangerous views on genetically modified foods (GMOs) and vaccines. I fear Nye has trespassed against the gods of science and the souls of Aristotle, Galileo, and Darwin cry out from their graves for me to rescue him from his error.
This is what I have on the wall of my science classroom:
Science means I will be faithful to the cause of free inquiry, and will accept truth where I find it, no matter how relentlessly it may tear out the roots of prejudice and superstition. I will not be blinded by the new or spectacular, condemning the old and tried, simply because it is old and tried. I will not distort or weigh evidence to support a favored theory, suspending judgment for more nearly adequate evidence. This I pledge as an ideal of Science.
Now when I look at Nye’s views on GMOs it seems as if he simply gets overwhelmed with the new and spectacular, rather than thinking through the wisdom of the effort.
In explaining why he changed his view on GMOs, here’s an example of his thinking from a July 13, 2015 Business Insider article. “He explained that what changed his mind was a fateful visit to the lab [a Monsanto lab] where scientists do the actual gene modification. There, he watched them scan the entire genetic sequence of the crops they wanted to modify. The process he saw, was startlingly precise, far more than it had been 20 years ago.”
The process may be precise, Bill, but you still have no idea what effect it will have on living organisms.
I draw your attention to research published in the journal, Environmental Science Europe in 2014 on genetically modified corn and the pesticide Round-Up, on toxicity in rats. This research was viciously attacked by Monsanto, especially since it represented a financial risk to their company’s efforts.
“Biochemical analyses confirmed very significant chronic kidney deficiencies, for all treatments and both sexes; 76% of the altered parameters were kidney-related. In treated males, liver congestions and necrosis were 2.5 to 5.5 times higher. Marked and severe neuropathies were also generally 1.3 to 2.3 times greater. In females, all treatment groups showed a two-to-threefold increase in mortality and deaths were earlier. This difference was also evident in three male groups fed with GM maize.”
The takeaway is that feeding rats genetically modified corn, which is then treated with the pesticide Round-Up, is causing kidney problems, liver issues, neuropathies (nerve death), and decreased life span. Yes, it’s cool that you can splice genes into organisms that could not have done so before, but maybe there’s a reason nature doesn’t do it on her own.
And maybe this is just from my legal training, Bill, but maybe you shouldn’t be so trusting of research which is funded by the people trying to sell you the product?
I also struggle with Nye’s flawed reasoning when it comes to vaccines. I found an article entitled “5 Things Bill Nye Has to Say to Anti-Vaxxers,” from The Record, May 8, 2017.
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