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Bill Gates says he supports a controversial ingredient — here’s why

Bill Gates says he supports a controversial ingredient — here’s why

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  • In a Reddit AMA on Tuesday, Bill Gates called GMOs “perfectly healthy.”
  • Gates also said he sees the breeding technique as an important tool in the fight to end world hunger and malnutrition.
  • Although it may seem controversial, Gates’ stance is in line with the majority of scientists who study the topic.

Bill Gates has a message for anti-GMO advocates: I’m disappointed.

In a Reddit “Ask Me Anything” on Tuesday, Gates said that he not only views GMO foods as “perfectly healthy,” but also that he sees them as a promising tool in a wider array of resources in the fight to reduce world hunger.

Here he is in full:

“GMO foods are perfectly healthy and the technique has the possibility to reduce starvation and malnutrition when it is reviewed in the right way,” Gates wrote. “I don’t stay away from non-GMO foods but it is disappointing that people view it as better.”

Gates’ view may strike some as controversial. Many people believe genetically modified foods are dangerous. In recent years, companies have submitted more than 35,000 products to the Non-GMO Project, an organization that certifies products that don’t contain genetically modified ingredients. And sales of GMO-free products are skyrocketing: Today, they represent roughly $16 billion in yearly sales.

But Gates’s stance also puts him in line with a majority of scientists who study the topic.

eating healthy

Flickr/Sonny Abesamis

Organizations like the National Academy of Sciences, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the European Commission have publicly proclaimed GMO foods to be safe to eat. A large 2013 study on GMOs found no “significant hazards directly connected with the use of genetically engineered crops.”

There’s also this fact: Nearly all the food we eat today has been genetically modified in some way. Dozens of crops, from corn to watermelon, have been selectively bred for thousands of years to give us the traits we find desirable, like large amounts of sweet, edible flesh or small seeds.

Dozens of other products – some of them life-saving – may not exist without genetically modified ingredients.

All insulin, the medication that people with diabetes depend on to regulate their blood sugar, is made with genetically-modified ingredients. The cotton used to make the T-shirt you’re wearing was most likely genetically modified.

Several experts maintain that the label “GMO” does the products made with the ingredients a disservice. The process of genetic modification is a breeding method – much like the other advances that have been made recently in the field of agriculture.

“What are we labeling here, DNA?,” Alison Van Eenennaam, a professor of animal genomics at the University of California at Davis, recently told Business Insider. “There’s DNA in everything, so good luck with that.”

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