Bill Nye, the Biotech Guy


Bill Nye, “the Science Guy,” helped make “geek chic” chic before it was chic. He also made science cool for a generation who grew up watching his eponymous PBS Kids program.

More recently, he has become a science evangelist for audiences of all ages and backgrounds. But there is one area that has stuck in the craw of many scientists, especially those with backgrounds in biology, genetics, and related fields: his skepticism of, if not outright opposition to, food biotechnology–or what some refer to imprecisely as “GMOs.” (Nye’s background is in mechanical engineering.)

But over the past few months, Nye has had a change of heart after investigating the issue and talking to experts. (“When you’re in love, you want to tell the world,” he said effusively.) In doing so, he added some heft to his “Science Guy” moniker, because this is what science is supposed to be about: looking at the body of credible evidence, evaluating it, and examining new evidence with a skeptical eye.

Nye first let on about his evolving views in a brief interview backstage at “Real Time with Bill Maher.” But now he is elaborating in an interview with Huffington Post.

As you’ll see in this video, Nye hasn’t completely shaken some of his critical views (for example, his explanation of the decline of monarch butterflies is more nuanced than he implies). But he is now emphatic about the safety of biotech crops for human beings and the clear benefits they offer, especially when it comes to feeding a growing population, and doing so with less environmental impact.

Nye now joins his fellow celebri-scientist Neil deGrasse Tyson in speaking factually about food biotechnology. Hopefully more and more high-profile, credible voices will join the conversation and help rebut the myths and outrageous claims that are spread by opponents of this important technology.