Kevin Folta: One year after Lipton’s NYT article, attacks on character continue

| | September 13, 2016

One year ago, the New York Times published a front-page article dedicated to my defamation.

In a sensationalist move, a well-known reporter took a batch of my personal emails acquired through the Freedom of Information Act (that I surrendered without resistance) and created a story that was designed to destroy my career and bring me personal harm. The emails were originally obtained and distributed by an activist group well funded by corporations with the intent of silencing me, a scientist that simply discusses science.

A year later the story appears again on Alternet, and author Lorraine Chow perpetuates the cherry-picked lies, the distortion and defamation started by USRTK and New York Times’ Eric Lipton.

This is under the “investigations” section, which turns out means cut-and-paste from another website.


Without any evidence other than the distorted words of trash journalism, Chow continues defamation of my efforts to simply educate scientists and ag professionals on how to discuss the issues of biotechnology. 

Of course, the article never states anything I’ve said incorrectly, any rules I’ve broken, or anything I’ve ever done that is unethical or unfair.

It is a first-class ad hominem smear, attacking me for doing my job as an educator.

Chow also fails to provide any evidence of her sub-head claim that anyone “bought” science. The evidence is the same before I had any interaction with a company, when I had interaction with a company, and now that I don’t have interaction with a company.

The facts are the facts.

Chow reiterates the words that made me spit my coffee all over my computer screen last year: that I’m in the “inner circle of corporate consultants…”  OMG.  Really?

She also reiterates the damaging, cherry-picked line that was pulled from over 4,600 (now 27,000) pages of emails…

Yes, that’s what I said, but what did it mean, in context? 

As I’ve described previously, the email was not between me and an “executive”.  It was between me and one of their field people, a friend that visited Colorado farmers with me back in September of 2014.

She was appalled by an ad campaign by anti-GM folks in an Oregon paper that was false and misleading about food and science. It was blatant manipulation and lies, false information presented to scare the public.

Related article:  Food Evolution director Scott Hamilton Kennedy: 'I wanted to reset the debate' over food and farming

She told me (and this is all in the emails) that a number of scientists were organizing an Op Ed in the same paper as well as a petition, standing up to misrepresentation of science and agriculture, and denouncing the harmful misinformation.

I was glad to add “sign on” to that list, or even help with the Op Ed.

Yep, that’s it. If Chow bothered to read the emails rather than pile on to the defamation campaign, it would have been rather clear. But that’s not the point. The point is to hurt a scientist that teaches science they find inconveniently incompatible with their beliefs.

If you can’t argue the evidence, smear the scientist.

I could go on about the piece, but the bad information has long been debunked.

Of course, Chuck Benbrook, the guy whose salary and research was all financed by the organic industry, is not mentioned, and he published work using estimates instead of real data that supported his (and the industry’s) desired outcome. He also defends ideological concepts that are not compatible with a scientific consensus.

Shill? Nah.

The good news is that the scientific community is waking up and sees such defamation for what it is—desperate efforts of a dying anti-scientific movement tied to a couple of hack authors cashing a check by confirming the biases of misguided people.

While it is sad to see this kind of effort resurface, it reminds us that all of us in climate, vaccines, evolution and genetic engineering need to continue to raise public awareness about the science—despite the activists that want to stop our messages.

This article originally appeared on his blog as One Year After, the Beating Continues and was reposted here with permission of the author.

Kevin Folta is professor and chairman of the Horticultural Sciences Department at the University of Florida, Gainesville. Dr. Folta researches the functional genomics of small fruit crops, the plant transformation, the genetic basis of flavors, and studies at photomorphogenesis and flowering. He has also written many publications and edited books, most recently was the 2011 Genetics, Genomics, and Breeding of Berries. He is on twitter @kevinfolta

49 thoughts on “Kevin Folta: One year after Lipton’s NYT article, attacks on character continue”

  1. There aren’t any of her ilk making contributions that count like yours Kevin. They’re a parasitical load and that’s all they’ll ever amount to. You hold your head up and know you’re appreciated for who you are and what you stand for.

  2. There will always be a subset of humans who are not susceptible to facts; the best that can be done is to marginalize them. As with cockroaches, they will always be around, hiding in the corners and making the occasional, disgusting foray out into the open.

      • Hard to tell, I hope you are wrong, but no question that the internet and social media has connected loons, true believers and conspiracy theorists in a way that gives them a greater sense of community than ever before.

          • Don’t forget the very real business interests at stake. There are those who know exactly what they are doing and who are not cultists, they are calculating business folks making a tidy profit selling organic by leveraging the influence of true believers on social media, among other strategies.

          • Indeed. Social media is infested with snake oil peddlers selling all forms of potions and nutritional enhancement, but they are selling something even more important than that – Fear. Without the fear it is harder to sell your latest bottle of hope.

      • I see from your screenshot that some one responded to my ban notice. did you say something and get banned? BTW, he didn’t ask me not to respond. He told me not to. I seem to have a negative reaction when told to shut up. If the person telling me isn’t pointing a gun at me. It ain’t happening.

        • Yeah, pretty much what happened to me. A mod is going to tell me to move along? I don’t think so. How about go F yourself? Then that StopGMO douche telling the mod to ban me didn’t help either. He’s now on my favorite person list. He might not like my undivided attention.

          Yes, the response to your comment was by Michael McCarthy defending us against the sock puppet trolls, and the clueless.

          • In hindsight, I think that Timohin was deliberately wording his comments to incite opposition. Because he wanted to ban. Let me know if you ever stumble across a way to either legally harm alternet or that twit. Maybe write to their advertisers.

          • He was absolutely daring anyone to respond to him. When he said he likes to moderate lightly, and stay out of the conversation, my reply was “lol, ok.” Not sure which pushed him over the edge.

            Writing to advertisers may be a good idea.

  3. Oh well, banned from AlterNet. The mods there are too stupid to realize that more than half the comments in support of that Folta hit-piece were Ted Miner and his dozen sock puppets. Then there’s the ever-clueless NoToGMO and his stupendous lack of scientific literacy.

    At least I got in a few quotes from this blog that haven’t been deleted…yet.

  4. Yea, I especially loved the “moderation” of the Alternet article; the mods came in, deleted anything that was critical of the article, then locked the comments.

    Fear not, though. The great thing about the Internet is that these kinds of lies and distortions cannot survive when anyone can learn the truth with a 30-second google search.

    Keep up the good work, Dr. Folta.

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