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Waiter, there is a gene in my soup! | Jimmy Botella | TEDxUQ

September 10, 2019

Translator: Vivian Polikar
Reviewer: Son Huynh If you haven’t figured it out already, I’m going to talk about genes
and I’m going to talk about soup. I’m going to talk about the biotech food
that is coming to your table or, well… The biotech food
that is already on your table. There’s a big debate about it. Whether it’s good, whether it’s bad… What I find is that
when I go to public forums, and I do a lot of that, and I talk about GM food and biotech food, it’s surprising to know
the amount of people who don’t know anything. not only about GM food, but about the food that they buy every day
in the supermarket. You see, they come to me and they say: “Jimmy, why are you complicating my life
with all this GM food if what we have now is perfectly OK?” And the truth is that
this is not a proper question because in this question, you are assuming what you have
today is perfectly OK. What am I talking about? Well, I’m talking about the fact that
what you have today, your normal food
in the supermarket is natural, is old, is traditional and is safe. And above all, there’s plenty of food
for everyone. All you need to do is
go to the supermarket and buy more food. That’s it. Simple as that. (Laughter) I’m going to tell you a little bit, perhaps, that is going to come
as news to you. What about your normal food? What about how natural it is? Let’s talk about bananas. The banana is a very natural fruit. You giveit to your kids. There is nothing more natural
than a banana, all right? I’ll tell you what. The banana that you buy today is this one,
your current variety, all right? If you want the natural banana,
here you have it. That’s the natural banana. Anything weird about it? Anything you notice? Oh, it’s got seeds! Why would a plant want to have seeds? (Laughter) Aha. So, what is happening here? What is happening is that you don’t want to have a bite
of a banana and start spitting seeds. So, as humans, what have we done? Well, we’ve done the most
unnatural thing you can think of. We’ve given it 3 copies of the genome. Now, anyone who knows about biology knows that you normally have
2 copies of the genome, one from your mom and one from your dad. Some plants have 4 copies
or six or eight or twenty-two. But you never have
an odd number of copies. That is so unnatural
that nature is telling you: “You are not reproducing. You are not having seeds,
I’m not letting you.” Very convenient for us,
but not for the bananas. (Laughter) You can go to tomatoes, and you can see the tomato you buy
every day in the market, all right? But, you know what? You should meet the natural tomato. The natural tomato, that you still find
in South America, in the mountains, because it comes from there. That is the natural tomato. Or you can have a look at this thing. This thing that doesn’t look
very familiar, does it? But what about this? Does it look familiar? Well, this is the natural maize. This is the maize that the cultures
in Central America were eating. They were so important to them that
there was a god for it, called Centeotl. And that is the maize
that they were eating. This one, not this. But let’s put it together. This is the one I’m talking about. This is the one you buy
in the supermarket. Why is it that you have this one? You have this one
because in order to feed a family, with this, you need a lot of plants. (Laughter) But, look: I’ve got good news for you. I’ve got good news for you because now
everybody is mad about “natural.” Everything is “natural.” Your shampoo is natural, your shirts are made
of natural fibers. I googled it and I found a big company
in Australia who is selling toilet paper as “all natural toilet paper”! So, everything is natural. Everything’s got to be natural for you. To a point, it is all right. Nature is good to us. It gives us air and sunlight. Nature would give us
the food that you eat. But you know what? Nature would give us tsunamis that will kill a quarter of a million
people in one night. And you know what? There is nothing more natural
than a tsunami. There is nothing man-made about it. Ah, and nature… Nature would give us malaria. Why? Because we have this mosquito here. And the mosquito’s got to eat, all right?! So, the thing is that nature is not good and nature is not bad. Nature is neutral. For nature, everybody’s got
the same rights. Why? Because, the misconception is that
we are the only sons of Mother Nature, and we are not. You see, this mosquito
is also a son of Mother Nature, and Mother Nature is taking care of it. He’s got to suck up blood from you, and if in the meantime,
it gives you malaria, too bad for you, mate! (Laughter) So, we’ve been eating food forever. This new biotech food is going to kill us because is so new
and I just want to go with my old food. And I’ll give a bit of a tale about
the Chinese gooseberry, which was brought to New Zealand
in the 1900s. Somebody put a lot of breeding,
a lot of effort into it. Gave it a new name. And what did you get? You get the kiwi fruit in 1959. And what about the strawberries? You’re going to say:
“All right Jimmy, that’s not possible. Strawberries are very old. I know it. I’ve seen it in a movie.
Cleopatra was eating strawberries.” (Laughter) All right. Fair enough. So strawberries are actually an accident. This is an accidental cross
of two different species. Wild species, one coming from Virginia,
one coming from Chile. And you may think: “They are plants,
they expanded territories.” The Virginians were going down. The Chileans were going up. They found themselves, I don’t know,
in Central America, in the Caribbean, they have a romantic night, you know… And the new strawberries came. But, I’ll tell you what: it was romantic. It was romantic
because it happened in Paris. (Laughter) Or in the outskirts of Paris,
in Versailles, in the Botanic Garden. They had this collection, they put these 2 berries together
and accidentally crossed them. There you go, your strawberries. That actually happened
in the middle of the 18th century. So next time you go to a movie
and you see Cleopatra eating strawberries, say, “That’s not right!” So, what about your traditional food? Like potatoes in Europe,
chillies in India? You know, there can’t be
an Indian food without chillies. Curry’s no good without chili. Cassava in Africa. Guess what? They all come
from South America, all right? What about safety? This new biotech food, you know, it’s not safe because it’s new. But all the old food is totally safe. Like Cassava, which can give you paralysis
if you don’t know how to process it? What about if you try
to eat a natural banana? Well, if you try to eat
the natural banana, and actually, people do it in Cambodia, they have a big problem
with bowel obstruction, because they eat the seeds. Anyone got a coffee today? A coffee’s got a thousand chemicals. Somebody decided “I’m going
to test 27 of it.” Guess what?! 19 of them were carcinogenic. So perhaps your normal food
is not as “natural” as you thought. Perhaps it’s not as traditional
as you thought, perhaps it’s not as safe as you thought. And perhaps it’s not as old
as you thought. But at least it’s plentiful, and I’ll come back to that in a minute. Now, I need to define what is a GM plant. A lot of people don’t know
what a GM plant is. It’s a complicated definition. A GM plant is a plant to which
you have added a fragment, a little bit of DNA,
but not in just any way. You have to do it using
precision techniques called Genetic Engineering. Now, if you add a lot of DNA,
that is not GM, all right? So, it’s important to know
what is not a GM plant. If you cross 2 plants and you have
thousands of genes, that’s not GM. If you produce plants in tissue culture
and create polyploids, giving them entire genomes, that’s not GM. If you produce varieties by irradiation
or using random mutagenesis, that is not GM. And you might say: “These techniques give
thousands of mutations, unknown mutations.” And you might say: “People don’t do that.” Aha! People do. Many of the foods that you have
in the supermarkets were created by irradiation
or random mutagenesis. It was the flavor of the day
in the 60s and 70s. It’s still done. So, one of the main questions I get
when I talk to people about GM food is “Are they safe?” Well, the first conception people ask is, you know, this food
is coming from science, it is not natural… And you’ve got to agree
I look pretty mad in this picture. (Laughter) I do look like a mad scientist. The funny thing is when
I turn around and I say: “Look, this is how we do bananas. We do GM bananas, I grab them
so they don’t run away and this guy actually injects the gene.” And people go: “Wow, I didn’t know
it was that easy.” (Laughter) Well, it wasn’t that easy. It’s very complicated,
but people don’t know about it. Obviously, they always
ask me this question: “Can you guarantee me, Jimmy,
there’s no risk eating GM food?” I may be kind of a honest guy and say: “No, I cannot guarantee it.” So, their obvious conclusion is: “Then don’t make me eat it.
I don’t want to take the risk.” Is there absolutely no risk? No, there isn’t. So I got to thinking about risky things. Risky things that you do everyday
or you normally do. One of them is driving. Well I live in Kenmore,
10 kilometers from here. I drive. Driving is dangerous.
You can have an accident. If I don’t drive, it’s going to take me
3 hours to get home. Or you say, “All right, I’m not driving.
I’m just going to walk.” Because driving is too dangerous. But sooner or later,
you’re going to find a street and you’re going to have to cross it. And you stop there
and say: “What do I do?” If you don’t cross the street,
you are not getting home. (Laughter) You say: “Well, never mind,
I’m going to move.” I’m going to buy a house
on the university campus, so I don’t have to cross the street. But, you see, classes are in the morning and if you walk under the sun,
you get a fantastic skin cancer. (Laughter) You practice sports? I broke my foot doing wind surfing. You cook, you can burn yourself. You breathe, you can get the flu. But, are you going to stop breathing? (Laughter) So, the thing is, pretty much
everything you do… (Laughter) Everything you do is risky. Because when start thinking
about the things that are not risky and you think and you think
and you keep thinking… You end up concluding: “Obviously, I cannot promise you that
there is absolutely zero risk in GM food. Because there is absolutely no zero risk
in anything you do in life. What do you do? You think about it
and you decide is it worth it or not. So, I’ll tell you
about classical breeding. Not GM. Classical breeding. You got this celery variety. Very healthy celery. Mom was a celery. Dad was a celery. They crossed them. They got this variety
that was so carcinogenic that farm workers
got rashes on their skin. By the way, you don’t need
any permits to sell this. You don’t need to [test] anything. So, what about there being plenty of food? Well, I’ve got some bad news for you. The news is that
in the next 2 generations, we will consume twice as much food as has been consumed
in the entire history of human kind. Depending on your belief, that’s since Adam and Eve, or since the monkeys came down
from the trees. Twice as much food. And what? You are going
to have to produce it. We are beginning to see food shortages and we are beginning to see social unrest because food prices are going up. And you know what? For you, if a kilo of tomatoes costs
$1.50 or $2.50, you don’t even know. For these guys, if a kilo of rice
costs $0.10 or $0.15, it’s the difference between
I’m eating or I’m not eating. So, for a lot of people who are not
as fortunate as us, that is a problem. So, what major crops do we have? Here is some data for you. It’s almost impossible
to find any soy beans that are not GM anymore. Or cotton. And you’d say but we don’t need cotton. Think again. Because if you go
and have some fish and chips, it’s made with cotton oil. So you’ve got maize, you’ve got canola. And if you want to talk about
the commercial impact, what is it that you have? Since GM food started in 1996, we have 1,5 billion hectares
planted of GM food. Contrary to what a lot of people say, most of the farmers who grow GM food
are small farmers, they are not huge multinationals. 90% are small farmers. Some of them from India. Some of them from Australia. And if you look
at the environmental impact, it’s incredible that essentially
GM crops have contributed to a huge gain in avoiding
environmental impact of agriculture. One example is that half a million kilo
of active ingredients has been saved by these crops. Remember, the active ingredient
is normally 1% of the total thing. And, now, the way that you [use it], is you go around your field
and you spray. And this guy has this mask, but you have to agree with me
that is not very good, all right? Some others are not so lucky. They don’t have any masks. They are breathing it. And in case you didn’t know, the incidence of cancer
and respiratory diseases in farmers is a lot higher than in people
who are not related to farm work. Why? Because they do this a lot. Now, in Australia, we don’t do it. Our fields are too big,
so we use airplanes. When we use airplanes, they’re very convenient to fumigate, but they use a lot of fuel So, another impact that you have from this is that just in 2011 alone, not in all of history, just in 2011, 23 billion kilos of CO2 was saved. [Reduction in pesticides
and CO2 emissions] And that is equivalent
to 10 million cars off the road. So, the previous speaker that you saw
was talking about 2 million. This is 10 million cars in one year. So, I hope I’ve convinced you
that GM is really the solution to all your problems, you know? Hair loss, whatever. (Laughter) The truth is: no, it isn’t. This is over-glorified. This is just one more technique,
all right? It just happens to be a technique
that is technically complicated and it’s very difficult to explain it
to your neighbors. And, therefore, whether you are
in favor or against it, you do have to respect the opinion
of the people who are afraid of them. Because people are afraid of the things
that they don’t understand. And this is not easily understandable. So, my final remarks… Look, I hope I’ve convinced you that, wherever you go, there is no such thing
as natural food any more. We do have a big problem,
and you might not realize it, but we do have a big problem. A lot of governments and countries
are really nervous about the whole thing. Mind you, we do have enough food today
to feed humanity. People are hungry
because of political problems, not because of agricultural problems. But in 50 years, that won’t be the case. GM is not the solution,
and GM is not perfect. And I would say anything you can solve
without using GM, you should. But you will be really silly not to use GM to solve problems
that cannot be solved any other way. And, of course, we need to have
a logical debate. The problem in this debate with GM food most of the time, is that it uses
a lot of theatricals. It doesn’t use science. So you can have a debate, but you have to base
this debate in science, not beliefs. Because if you tell me: “Look, GM food is not good,
because God told me so.” Well you just killed it,
because what can I say? Can I say: “Can you please give me
an email for God? Can you give me a phone number? Can I talk to your God? Can I talk to your God about,
you know, this GM thing? “No, no. God talks through me,
not through you.” And that is a bit of a problem. But that doesn’t mean that
we don’t have to respect those people, the fact that even given the science,
they decided not to have it. Because respect is number one. But, you cannot tolerate people
who will tell you: “This is this
because it’s my belief, all right?” You can say you can’t have it, but you can’t tell me
that is the reason for it. It’s like with all these cows
and all that. I respect vegetarians,
I truly respect them. It’s your belief, you do it. But don’t come to me to tell me
“I’m a vegetarian because I respect life.” Because that is not true. If you respect life,
you have to eat rocks. (Laughter) Vegetarians are the most inhuman
people in the universe, if you look at it from the point of view
of a tomato. (Laughter) Look, a goat can run away from you. A cow can kill you,
when you try to kill it. So you don’t have a steak. But a tomato… It’s just growing. He can’t run away from you. And you don’t even kill it. You eat it alive. Come on! (Laughter) So don’t give me that. Thank you very much. (Applause)


  • Reply Ku'uwehi Hiraishi May 23, 2013 at 3:51 am


  • Reply Despoinis Balalaika June 28, 2013 at 5:44 pm

    oh my god!!!! How much does monsanto pays this guy…even university professor misdirect the public…where is this world going ffs

  • Reply Brendan Heckman June 29, 2013 at 12:51 pm

    That's not how it works though.

  • Reply choocello June 29, 2013 at 6:08 pm

    Awesome !!!!

  • Reply Glenn Roberts June 30, 2013 at 5:14 am

    I don't know. Is forcing genetic changes through viral DNA modification the same as cross-breeding? This was one of the most disturbing TED talks I have ever viewed. He seems more concerned about CO2 emissions than he does about destroying our food supply.

  • Reply C.S. Fraser July 4, 2013 at 4:09 pm

    I have never heard a speaker so full of self serving misinformation in my entire TED travels. It makes me wonder about other talks on TED. I am so disappointed right now. The health of our planet is at stake and they put on this piece of garbage to promote his own agenda and the agenda of biotech companies.
    if you want to hear a real GM scientist who tells the truth. Watch this you tube video. search The Gene Revolution, The Future of Agriculture: Dr. Thierry Vrain at TEDxComoxValley

  • Reply dudu Bobby July 18, 2013 at 2:47 am

    Hi Brendan, Can you please explain to me how do you cross a virus with a banana? Do you get pollen from the virus and put it in the banana flowers?

  • Reply dudu Bobby July 18, 2013 at 2:51 am

    And if you want to hear a real environmentalist you should listen to this talk form Mark Lynas at the Oxford Farming Conference: Just google Mark Lynas and oxford Farming Conference.

  • Reply C.S. Fraser July 18, 2013 at 6:20 pm

    since it wont let me post links in comments all I have to say is this man is a sell out plane and simple.

  • Reply C.S. Fraser July 18, 2013 at 6:23 pm

    Also if you read the replies on Mark's video on Vimeo you can get enough there that can satisfy anyone that is willing to learn. btw I am not anonamous and you are.

  • Reply August Pamplona July 20, 2013 at 5:28 pm

    With respect to spreading misinformation all I can say is, Pot meet kettle. Thierry Vrain is incredibly misleading.
    Google for "What really happened at the AVICC regarding a GE ban" and read the first link.

  • Reply Charles Rader July 20, 2013 at 6:31 pm

    glen, you do want to eat pesticides. You just don't know it. Since plants can't run away, most plants have evolved a set of chemical defenses, e.g. pesticides.

    You even choose some of your foods specifically because they contain pesticides. For example onions and garlic would taste like library paste if it weren't for the substances they create to kill or repel insects.

    But some pesticides harm some species and not others. You can pig out on chocolate, but it could kill your dog.

  • Reply Charles Rader July 21, 2013 at 10:38 am

    Of course there's a difference. There's also a difference between onions and garlic. The question really is "Does the difference matter?" You can't wash phytoncide out of garlic any more then you can wash Bt out of corn. Neither is actually harmful, but that's for you to decide.

    As to natural mutations, you don't seem to know about the thousands of crop varieties mutated by exposure to gamma rays or chemicals. I thought Botella explained that not much is actually natural.

  • Reply Glen Orchard July 22, 2013 at 12:17 am

    Some of the companies involved in this have a shocking track record of getting things wrong and causing harm eg. Introducing many of the chemicals that are now considered a problem into the food supply in the first place.

  • Reply Charles Rader July 22, 2013 at 2:03 am

    Glen, just as a matter curiosity, of the food you grow, do you know the way it was developed? Many important plants were developed by crossing and selecting, but many more that we eat were developed by very unnatural techniques and contain genes never seen before in any species. I admire your patience if you've actually researched this.

    One comment though – when you use the word "contaminant" you are biasing the result. Not every new thing can be considered a contaminant.

  • Reply Charles Rader July 22, 2013 at 11:03 am

    Glen, you are entitled to your opinion but you aren't entitled to make things up. "Fish DNA merged with plant DNA is a contaminant if …"

    I have two comments, one sarcastic and the other critical.

    Sarcastic: Do you like Italian food, or bouillabaisse?

    Critical: There is at present NO GMO FOOD being sold with fish and plant DNA. NONE! ANYWHERE! So as an illustration of "pushed onto the public far too early and being guided more by fast profits" it's outright fraudulent.

  • Reply August Pamplona July 22, 2013 at 12:51 pm

    I don't know what you mean by "viral DNA modification". In principle, you certainly could use a modified virus as a genetic engineering tool but that's not how genetic engineering is done in crops (not that there would necessarily be anything wrong with it).

    What does the use of transgenic technologies have to do with "destroying our food supply"? They are a safe tool set & no more "destroying our food" supply than screwdrivers.

    Maybe you need to watch this video again (carefully, this time).

  • Reply August Pamplona July 22, 2013 at 1:00 pm

    By the way, the very way you formulate the question shows your bias as it poses a contrast between forcing (genetic changes) and an implied not forcing..

    In reality (and very much the point of this video), anytime that you do anything other than clone plants you are "forcing genetic changes". Certainly, if you're selecting parents for a cross you are forcing something to happen to change genetics (and those changes will be almost completely uncharacterized both before and after the fact).

  • Reply August Pamplona July 22, 2013 at 1:19 pm

    Hi dudu Bobby, I believe that what you are seeing with Glen (not Brendan) is the result of playing enough iterations of a game of telephone by uninformed people that it is currently impossible to know exactly what the original piece of misinformation that Glen Orchard is referring to actually was.

  • Reply August Pamplona July 22, 2013 at 1:23 pm

    Google "More Frankenfood Paradox" and the first hit should be a blog post by Kevin Folta. There's a table there illustrating the methods used to improve plants by manipulating their genes which complements this talk quite nicely.

  • Reply August Pamplona July 22, 2013 at 1:29 pm

    Glen, "genes never seen before in any species" happens every time you have a mutation (that is to say, all the time).

  • Reply August Pamplona July 22, 2013 at 1:36 pm

    Ignoring the fact that, as Charles Rader pointed out, there are no tomatoes expressing fish proteins on the market (in fact, currently, there are no transgenic tomatoes on the market at all–although there used to be), one could make a valid point that, in a sense, there's no such thing as "fish DNA". The DNA is the same for all living creatures on earth. What is significant is the sequences of nucleotides found and we can match certain sequences to the organism in which they've been found.

  • Reply August Pamplona July 22, 2013 at 1:43 pm

    There's nothing linking such sequences in some sort of a real, sacred way to that organism.

    If I were a computer coder & had made an accounting application & a database access application I might find I have a sorting function in the database application which I can use on my accounting application and I might choose to reuse that code in the accounting application.

    This wouldn't constitute an unwholesome & unnatural mixing of databaseness with accountingness. It'd be reuse of a sort function.

  • Reply rd f July 23, 2013 at 3:13 am

    Absolutely brilliant!

  • Reply DRK0114 July 23, 2013 at 7:16 am

    this is the worst ted talk ever. He's confusing genetic modification with breeding over generations of plants. Nature is gives us Tsunamis, therefore its no longer good and now neutral? That's such a dumb argument to justify GMOs. How about all the man made war victims and casualties. How about heart disease from fucking nasty GMO mcdonnalds burgers and fries. How about car crashes. Don't bad mouth nature because some people died, when in 1 month, many more people die due to man made things.

  • Reply MWCstream July 23, 2013 at 2:32 pm

    They say "GMO's are good because, you can grow a lot of food in really poor soils." Really? Whatever happened to the belief you can't get something from nothing? I guess GMO's are magic and the laws of physics do not apply.

  • Reply rageonyx July 23, 2013 at 11:48 pm

    Is it just me or is this guy a corporate shill? Maybe just a total idiot.
    Comparing selective breeding to GM foods is like comparing a bloodhound to a robot dog.
    I learned about GM products by buying some Glofish once. They died off like fruitflies while the zebra danios (the source species) I got at the same time, from the same place.. lived a few years. Obviously there is SOMETHING WRONG with gene splicing!

  • Reply August Pamplona July 24, 2013 at 1:01 pm

    First of all, don't change the subject (crop breeding) by bringing up rBGH (though, you happen to be wrong on that one too). While, I understand you don't like Monsanto, that is orthogonal to transgenics which is just a tool. If I told you I saw a Monsanto scientist use a screwdriver you wouldn't start panicking about screwdrivers, would you?

  • Reply August Pamplona July 24, 2013 at 1:04 pm

    OK, so sometimes Agrobacterium tumefaciens is used to deliver a plasmid payload. There's nothing wrong with that. The speaker's point is not that it's the same genetic engineering (the equivalent of which happens in nature all the time) is the same as other forms of breeding. His point is that there are no unique risks introduced & that there are fewer risks. Google "More Frankenfood Paradox" & tell me where the excess risk can bt found on that table.

  • Reply August Pamplona July 24, 2013 at 1:11 pm

    As for your documentaries, it would have to be English or Spanish. However, the likelihood that there's anything new in them that I have not seen before is about as high as that of finding an argument I have not seen before at a young earth creationist website: rather low. I doubt that they are likely to have much that someone like Jeffrey Smith hasn't said already. I've found that when you dig the claims tend to be extremely disappointing in how poorly backed by reality they are.

  • Reply August Pamplona July 24, 2013 at 1:11 pm

    That should have read "The speaker's point is not that genetic engineering (the equivalent of which happens in nature all the time) is the same as other forms of breeding."

  • Reply KowaruKei August 7, 2013 at 11:38 am


  • Reply edensinyourpants August 10, 2013 at 9:43 pm

    Ok, so here is the deal. I go to UQ, I study Biotechnology. This guy has given me lectures. he is not trying to deceive you, he has examined the evidence and drawn conclusions (conclusions that ALOT of agricultural scientists have). some people have reached different conclusions but that does not make him a "sell out [plain] and simple". so basically, learn a bit more respect for people whos job it is to know what they are doing… thats all

  • Reply JaysThoughts September 14, 2013 at 3:46 pm

    I am not against the potential of the technology. It is inevitable, but to accept current unsafe methods simply because we can and its neat is irresponsible at best. Until there is a safe way to shunt genes in an exact position rather than the current process, it can be demonstrated that this is not a safe technology. It's the same with fusion reactors. It's a good idea. We all dream of them. But until we have a safely working one, I don't know that I want to be where they're firing it up.

  • Reply SpottedLabCoat October 11, 2013 at 6:09 am

    Sorry, but that is where you are wrong. Agrobacterium rhizogenes (and many other species) routinely (and in nature!) puts its own genes into plants to feed itself and THIS is the technology that we piggy back on in the lab.

  • Reply SpottedLabCoat October 11, 2013 at 6:12 am

    "poor soil" can relate to soil with more salt, higher or lower pH than normal – all things that people are working on making plants more resistant too. Now yes, "poor soil" can also mean less nutrients. Legume plants can take nitrogen from the atmosphere, rather than the soil. If all plants could do this then nitrogen fertiliser would be a thing of the past.

  • Reply MWCstream October 13, 2013 at 4:49 pm

    Research aquaponic systems, because with those you do not need any soil. This systems grows fish and food all organically and could be powered by a small solar panel. They use them in earthship houses a lot to grow food all year long.

  • Reply Theresa Lam October 18, 2013 at 3:27 am

    "The celery was so carcinogenic that the workers got rashes"???? Ummmmmm…. that doesn't tell me much about the carcinogenicity.

  • Reply Theresa Lam October 18, 2013 at 3:29 am

    So instead of spraying the active ingredient (pesticides) the pesticides are inside the plants. mmmmmm….

  • Reply Theresa Lam October 18, 2013 at 3:30 am

    2 million pounds of Roundup is dropped on the earth every year.

  • Reply Theresa Lam October 18, 2013 at 3:31 am

    There's no such thing as "natural food" any more? ugh please. there's a big difference between selective breeding and genetically engineered organisms

  • Reply Kate Buchanan October 25, 2013 at 1:59 pm

    oh please, educate yourself.

  • Reply rt36crazyfists December 1, 2013 at 2:58 pm

    What was with the lame jab at vegetarians?  If we all ate less meat, there would be far more farmland to devote to growing food to feed HUMANS, instead of livestock, to which a vast majority of American crops are dedicated.  With more free space, farming could be done with sustainable, "low yield" organic methods, with no synthetic chemicals at all.  There are so many reasons to promote more plants and less meat, for instance, the World Preservation Foundation says "veganism offers the single most effective path to reducing global climate change", and here we are at TED bashing vegetarianism.  Good work.

  • Reply Mim Ah December 3, 2013 at 2:47 pm

    Ok, the strawberry thing might be a bit off. Only because the wild strawberry will grow on the mountains of eastern Europe, very very tiny but you can smell it yards away.

  • Reply Parsa Dorbeigi January 19, 2014 at 7:08 am

    I wouldn't say he is a sell out with 100% certainty, but he uses many wrong arguments; the biggest of them being the use of God. I haven't met even one person who criticizes the GMOs talk based on personal beliefs, rather, they provide you many evidences. The risk factor also is another example. Same thing goes for vegetarians. This guy uses tons of "logical fallacies". Besides, he forgets/refuses to address one big factor: The Greed of Corporations and their willingness to do anything to increase their profits. They already do that with adding tons of sugar to milk. Watch Jamie Oliver's talk. How can people trust such criminals?

  • Reply Mishelle Shepard March 11, 2014 at 2:03 pm

    There's a huge difference between what man is creating with nature in the garden over generations compared to what is being spliced in a petri-dish by corporations with dubious motives who do not then allow them to be tested.  You can't prove they are safe if they are not labeled, because the issues they're causing for folks can't be traced back.

  • Reply tonyo o April 26, 2014 at 1:45 pm

    Give me FOOD not PHOOD. Aquaponics beyond organic

  • Reply JON ROBERT May 23, 2014 at 12:29 pm

    Would Sweet n’ Low or Equal be considered a GMO food or is it in a different category all together?  My Mom died of a brain disease seven years ago and some doctors link it to artificial chemicals and sweeteners in foods.  I’m trying to read and understand all I can about GM food, but there’s a lot of information.  Jimmy Botella can be very convincing, but so can a used car salesman.

  • Reply Tesfa A May 25, 2014 at 8:03 pm

    what if ? if we call the genetic modification planned and unplanned GMO. because nature by itself modify their DNA by mutation or genetic recombination. GMO is one of the best contemporary genetic approaches to improve qualitative and quantitative features of an organisms.  Respect Jimmy Botella 

  • Reply thaicoffee2003 May 27, 2014 at 8:04 pm

     This guy had me on board until the last minute when he seemed unable to differentiate between sentient life and plant life. To me, when someone can no longer tell between the pain and suffering of a large mammal and a tomato, I move away from them – being a large mammal myself. 

  • Reply Brad Suarez August 11, 2014 at 1:17 am

    It all comes down to the individual's definition of "natural". If you want to say that natural means without any human intervention whatsoever (as pro gmo activists do)  then yes strawberries, kiwis and bananas are not "natural" in that sense of the word.  Using this very base definition of "natural" would mean that anything cooked is unnatural because chemically the natural food is altered via human intervention.    

    For most anti GMO activists, anything done in a lab would be unnatural whereas if a human breeds two organisms for years and years and end up with a new organism this would still be "natural" because the selection is in the end still left up to nature… it's not done by force in a lab.

    Last time I checked we were all free to make our own decisions and if people think that eating GMO is a risk they're not willing to take it's their right to do so. For me images of Dolly the sheep come to mind when I think about DNA tampering so I'm skeptical of GMO at this stage. Thank goodness lots of people are warming up to GMO so I can observe from a distance.   

  • Reply Armando Castro September 17, 2014 at 10:19 pm

    very good point of view…

  • Reply DancingRaven October 15, 2014 at 5:23 pm

    Mother Nature is the best but not genetically modified or engineered food. You are right we have enough food. The past 20 years of messing around with our food source has given the big 5 Chemical Companies the Control over 90% of the Food Supply. Their soul purpose is to CONTROL THE WORLD FOOD SUPPLY. That is unfortunate because the cost is too great destroying bio-diversity in seed selection and completely destroying the earth for decades by sterilizing it then spraying it with 80 different poisons a day is not healthy. Your analogies are ridiculous. We need to move away from any type of biotech that destroys the earth and people. 

  • Reply @thefermiparadox October 23, 2014 at 7:55 pm

    Fish genes in my tomato? Dumbass.
    June 11, 2014 11:32 pm by  Bernie Mooney
    You hear this nonsense over and over. They’re putting genes from unrelated species into GMOs. This very idea shows how ignorant the anti-gmo activists are when it comes to science and DNA. What this post is about is that you don’t have to be a squint to understand the science.

    I’m not a scientist and I’ll admit that before I started learning about GMOs I would have thought the same thing. Fish genes in my tomato? Yikes.

    Then, when I started learning about GMOs, I started learning about DNA.  I still only have a basic knowledge of both sciences, but I have learned enough that I now know that it is not some freaky experimental science. These guys and gal squints know what they’re doing. They understand the mechanisms of how it all works. I also found out that genes are genes.

    I found out that we humans share quite a few genes with other species.  Speaking of tomatoes; we share 70% DNA. Bananas? 60%

    That’s what makes the UNRELATED species argument silly.

    Another nonsensical idea is that for some reason, gene transfer in the lab is somehow more sinister and wrong than “traditional breeding.”

    This is what I learned. In traditional breeding, thousands of genes get transferred, willy nilly. You don’t know what you’re going to get. It may take years until you find out whether it works or not. With GM they transfer only the gene(s) they need. Then they work to make sure it works like they want it to. They test for all kinds of unintended consequences. You can’t do that with traditional breeding. You have to wait years to see if you get want you want. How is that worse than conventional breeding?

    The allergen nonsense? Yeah, they test for those as well. Think about it. With GM they will be able to eliminate the allergens in peanuts and wheat.

    I used to be a technophobe and then I was introduced to the computer in 1982. A friend showed me how it was a great thing for writing. It allowed you to do all things you couldn’t do before. You could cut and paste and move things around and get it just the way you wanted it.

    On a related level, that’s what’s happened in the world of genetics.

    I still write things on paper. In fact, I do it using a pencil. I love pencils. And that’s the point. No one method is great. It’s whatever works.

    GM has its place, It can be a positive; a helpful tool.

  • Reply @thefermiparadox October 28, 2014 at 6:07 pm

    Every single American should watch this talk.

  • Reply William Powell January 2, 2015 at 4:31 pm

    Excellent TED talk.  Addresses many of the anti-GMO myths.  Unfortunately people with closed minds will not listen to what he has to say.

  • Reply Mishelle Shepard February 12, 2015 at 2:31 pm

    "The hope of the industry is that over time the market is so flooded [with GMOs] that there's nothing you can do about it. You just sort of surrender" – Don Westfall, biotech industry consultant and vice-president of Promar International, in the Toronto Star, January 9 2001.

  • Reply Meoli55 April 10, 2015 at 5:00 pm

    is this really the best a professor can do to explain gmo risk, honestly, ? comparing gmo eating with driving is such a cheap shot. just unworthy of a rational thinking audience

  • Reply Meoli55 April 10, 2015 at 5:06 pm

    show me studies of prolonged exposure of rats to gmo food with healthy results. cause i've seen the studies that show health complications.

  • Reply Meoli55 April 10, 2015 at 7:06 pm

    he might as well have said that using human genes in rice is just fine since cannibalism was practised by some tribes and therefore it is natural.

  • Reply Meoli55 April 13, 2015 at 8:00 am

    by the way wild strawberries are natural, they existed before breeding experiments took place in france. And the breeding in a french botanical garden WAS natural since all they did was plant one type of strawberry from Chile I think, next to another type and the result of NATURAL pollination was a new type. No engineering in labs and no sterile infertile seeds here…

  • Reply Jason Triplett April 16, 2015 at 3:11 pm

    "there are little to no natural foods anymore" because of GMs is taking over…thankfully there are many who are protecting original seeds for future generations who will know the negative effects of the GM industry today.

  • Reply Mariana Vaz April 20, 2015 at 11:00 pm

    welll everything went fine until the vegetarian part…. what a stuuupid argument

  • Reply MrCiammurro May 13, 2015 at 2:55 pm

    No more GM for me ! Ford , Chevy , maybe Toyota !

  • Reply peterpotpie July 2, 2015 at 7:57 pm

    Look up "The world according to Monsanto"  This is not about feeding the people – it's about patenting life forms. $$$$

  • Reply George Galamb July 14, 2015 at 3:47 pm

    This man is obviously working for the bio-tech industry. Most of what he claims are distortions of the truth. Purposefully designed to spread disinformation for the benefit of their own agenda. Please people, do not believe anything that he says! The fact is, that they want to own the whole world's seed supply! And they will do and say anything that they can to deceive us all, but by the time the whole world wakes up it will be too late. They will have all the power in their hands! Of course he's mocking vegetarians and vegans, because he knows that vegans are the most informed people on this planet.

  • Reply Leo S July 16, 2015 at 5:46 am

    Excellent presentation. GE food was a great invention. So many science illiterate people commenting here really concerns me.

  • Reply Robert Lucas July 27, 2015 at 7:22 am

    He talks endlessly about how we've used nature's tools to alter food and then compares that to biotech food… not very helpful.

  • Reply Michael Polidori August 9, 2015 at 3:06 am

    I love the title – Mr Botella didn't think that through.
    The problem is that there are genes in your soup. And if your soup contains GMO then your soup has anti-biotic resistance genes in it.
    These genes are used as marker genes when biotechs create these patented contaminated mimics of healthy food.

    It's an easy way to tell if a gene package has randomly inserted "successfully" –
    Yes "randomly inserted"… no splicing goes on in GMO currently being commercially grown and marketed in the USA and Canada.
    A random insertion has inherent unknown consequences for the plant genome, nutrients it may absorb, growth patterns, photosynthesis processes… if the plant's genes do it, then this random insertion of a package of genes (including anti-biotic resistance) can affect it. Mr Botella should emphasize that in his video.

    When hundreds or thousands of seedlings sprout from the altered cells, they are doused with a specific anti-biotic. If they survive they are assumed to have been successfully altered.
    Different biotech companies use different anti-biotic marker genes – so they don't have to pay another biotech company licensing fees for using their marker genes.

    The big problem for Mr Botella is that the genes in our soup can be assimilated and utilized by bacteria in our guts. Eating a variety of GM foods will end up creating bacteria that are resistant to a wide variety of antibiotics, specific ones and the families of anti-biotics they belong to.

    Mr Jimmy should change the title of his biotech-propaganda video.

    Watch him carefully folks. Watch his technique, his body language, listen to how he carefully crafts his tale.

    As Always,
    For the protection of children and our food supply,
    In the interests of truth and science,
    Michael Polidori

  • Reply Lori CC August 11, 2015 at 12:54 am


  • Reply BrumleyKriss September 5, 2015 at 11:11 pm

    The attack on vegetarians was fallacious and irrelevant.

  • Reply brentcsullivant1 September 18, 2015 at 2:02 pm


  • Reply Donna King November 1, 2015 at 11:46 pm

    this man speaks the truth, so I think people need to listen to what he has to say.

  • Reply Hoffmansk December 20, 2015 at 4:35 pm

    Haha, funny! Bananas !
    This is the "natural" banana… Actually bananas come in approximately 1000 different types of banana plants in the world . This guy only shows two and the one on the right is the Cavendish banana which is a clone banana designed for the commercial western food market.

  • Reply Hoffmansk December 20, 2015 at 4:45 pm

    Too bad it's only a comedy and not science – and not even funny, but really boring!

  • Reply Hoffmansk December 20, 2015 at 4:54 pm

    Jimmy Botella, BSc., Ph.D. serves as the Chief Scientific Advisor at Origo Biotech Pty Ltd.

  • Reply Char Magne January 20, 2016 at 3:26 pm

    Great talk, addresses many myths and thoroughly explains them. Unfortunately there are many people who are not educated in the diverse sciences to make the conclusion that GMOs are not harmful for human consumption.

  • Reply Miranda Setnov March 7, 2016 at 9:56 am

    Hey guys, The best success that I have ever had was with my magic diet
    (just google it) Without a doubt the most helpful diet that I have ever

  • Reply Morgan Sam April 15, 2016 at 6:42 pm

    What this stupid genius forgot to say is that a wild banana ( from Papua for example) wich is 3 times smaller than today supermarket bananas (GMO) contains 10 times more vitamins and minerals.
    Mother Nature plays with quality not quantiy.

  • Reply MotoJur Racing April 30, 2016 at 10:46 am

    I belive that siencetist could help us …..But they will not!! They are part of corrupted lobies!!!

  • Reply MotoJur Racing April 30, 2016 at 10:51 am

    They produce self poisoning vegetables includes self defroster chemicals! Werry healthy???

  • Reply Joe Salem August 11, 2016 at 11:57 pm

    So simple. Before gm nonsense the food tasted great with lots of nutrition. Now it's all either tasteless or has a bad taste. You gmo con artists can never trick the instincts and taste buds of the people who know what's good and normal.

  • Reply edensinyourpants January 23, 2017 at 2:33 pm

    I love how even when confronted with evidence, people cling to their irrational belief based viewpoint. the comments is littered with "blah blah corporate sell out" "blah blah all lies" "blah blah i know better (somehow for some reason)". how you like them (GMO) apples?

  • Reply Linda Pham May 29, 2017 at 10:40 pm

    Fantastic TED Talk!! HE certainly gets you to think about GMOs from whole new perspective. It was such a great presentation!

  • Reply Mmone Mopane October 19, 2018 at 11:10 pm

    Argument: we eat more food because we don’t eat nourishing food. Our food is empty and our bodies are not satisfied. Also the counter arguments are weak and wouldn’t stand in an academic writing. They were all a build up to the weakest one being the vegetarian argument. There is no factual substance about how the body processes these GMO foods rather jabs at arguments against. I don’t mind listening to differing opinions but they must be substantial

  • Reply Hitesh Pegu March 14, 2019 at 1:44 am

    We never had a bt poison in our plant and food .bt is toxins and glycoshalphate too that sprayed on gmo plant and some blind people say no ill effect they cannot see growing of chronic health problems

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