Genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are "perfectly safe" and highly necessary when it comes to feeding the 7.5 billion-some people who call Earth home. At least - that's what Bill Gates said when he was asked about the controversial topic on Reddit in a recent Ask Me Anything (AMA).
In his AMA response, the founder of Microsoft and famous philanthropist said he was disappointed that so many people are against GMOs.
"GMO foods are perfectly healthy and the technique has the possibility to reduce starvation and malnutrition when it is reviewed in the right way," he wrote.
"I don't stay away from non-GMO foods but it is disappointing that people view it as better."
This isn't the first time the billionaire has spoken up about the controversy surrounding GMOs. In an interview with the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) in 2016, Gates said he believes GMOs are the key to ending hunger in Africa.
"What are called GMOs are done by changing the genes of the plant, and it's done in a way where there's a very thorough safety procedure," he said.
"And it's pretty incredible because it reduces the amount of pesticide you need, raises productivity, can help with malnutrition by getting vitamin fortification... And so for Africa I think this is gonna make a huge difference - particularly as they face climate change."
Gates' AMA response comes at a particularly important time for the GMO debate. According to a recent report from Iowa State University (ISU), Russia has been paying for online articles that question the safety of genetically modified crops and biotechnology - all in a dirty attempt to further divide the American public on the issue.
The ISU study revealed there are more news articles mentioning GMOs in the U.S. versions of just two Russian-backed news sites than five other American news organizations combined, including Breitbart News, Huffington Post, Fox News, CNN and MSNBC.
Among all seven news sites examined, the two Russian-backed sites - Sputnik and RT - produced more than 50 percent of all GMO-related articles. Furthermore, the Russian news site RT was responsible for "nearly all" of the articles where the term GMO appeared as "click bait."
The researchers said they believe Russia is trying to provide an "ecologically clean alternative" to America's GM crops, which Russia banned in 2016.
Unfortunately, the misinformation appears to be working. Despite the fact that a 2016 report revealed there is scientific consensus that GM foods are safe, a majority of Americans believe there is scientific disagreement on the safety of GM foods, and 39 percent believe GM foods are worse for you than regular crops.
"When it comes to information about scientific matters, the public is less trusting of scientists for information about GMOs than they are for information about vaccines, climate change, evolution or nuclear power," said Shawn Dorius, an ISU assistant sociology professor and another lead researcher on the study.
To offset public distrust, we need more influential people like Bill Gates to help spread scientifically accurate information about GMOs.
"If you want farmers in Africa to improve nutrition and be competitive on the world market, you know, as long as the right safety things are done, that's really beneficial," Gates told WSJ.