I like Bill Maher as an entertainer who speaks his political and atheistic mind, but I do disagree with his often hyperbolic attitude towards genetically modified foods or GMOs. AND for bringing on his show a quack (Samir Chachoua) earlier in the year to give him a forum for his nonsense HIV cures. AND for softly supporting anti-vaccine advocates and other issues surrounding health where he doesn’t base his conclusions on scientific facts. The hypocrisy is on his other heavily addressed issue (and rightly so) climate change he goes straight to “science says this” and there is “scientific consensus” whenever he’s debating with his panel. But on GMOs he dodges the science in favor of his own personal bias that GMOs are unhealthy and dangerous even though the scientific consensus is they are not.
There is plenty to debate on aspects of GMOs such as the business practices of Monsanto, the environmental impact of farming and even GMO labeling–which I think might actually hurt smaller organic businesses who are “nonGMO unique” because as large corporations rush to be labeled nonGMO due to either new laws or public demand they diminish the nonGMO brand. GMO by itself, however, the concept of genetically modifying plants for food consumption, is not harmful. In fact, it has saved countless lives. And we’ve been modifying our food for thousands of years through artificial selection. The term “natural foods” is truly misleading.
So when I heard Bill Maher pose the question of corporate agriculture and food purity to President Obama and he didn’t cater to Bill or the far left scare bias on the issue, but instead took a cautioned and reasonable stance…how refreshing was that! Obama simply said that we should “follow the science.” If the science says in one instant a certain GMO doesn’t yield the necessary results, then we discard it. If in another instance a GMO is beneficial then we don’t discard. No blanket statement was given that all GMOs are bad for your health or that corporate agriculture is evil and we must all eat organic. It also appears, unless there is an edit I can’t see, that Obama, not Bill Maher, brought up the trigger word “GMOs” in the overall framing of his answer and defended them from the usual dismissal in favor of “natural” foods. Considering Bill’s prior bombastic responses to Real Time panel members defending GMOs I would say he had to bite his tongue a bit.
Follow the science, Bill. It’s a good recommendation for all of us.
Sidenote: The interview is also worth the time to watch because it’s one of the rare instances of a president being asked about atheism. Obama’s answer is pretty much what I would expect him to say, but again, it’s still nice to hear a reasoned response to such a question.