Lego is quite simply Nick’s favorite thing, so he’s naturally going to come up with reasons to play with it for work. This video is the result of Nick’s pathological interest in Lego, and his work in science communication. Lego, and the instruction booklets that come with every set make an excellent analogy to explain how and why scientists engineer the genes of plants and other organisms. PLEASE NOTE: This analogy is not 100% perfect. Genetic Engineering is complicated, and in certain areas this analogy falls apart. A very thoughtful scientist told me to tell you all that first generation GE crops had random location gene insertion (but fully characterized). Next generation GE crops have targeted insertion sites, and this analogy deals with the latter.
In the end, analogies offer one of the best routes in explaining complex science to laymen. They aren’t always perfect, and at points when the real science gets very granular, the usefulness of analogies drops off. However most of the fear and concern consumers have around food production can be addressed by covering the science at a pretty basic level. In which case, Lego is a fun way of doing so.