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Kevin M. Folta RSS Feed of this column.

I'm proud to be a public scientist at a land-grant university with great interests in public education. I completed a Ph.D. in Molecular Biology and have been a professor at the University of Florida... Read More »


    How could you destroy someone with their own words, if their words present no evidence of wrongdoing?  It actually is amazingly simple, and illustrates the danger of limitless access to personal emails through public records requests.  In this post I will show how two writers for a PLoS One Blog* blatantly misrepresent content obtained through such a request. This is how scandals are manufactured from nothing.

In the shadow of Proposition 37's defeat maybe we can have a real conversation.  Angry, uninformed discussion based on fear mongering from both sides detracted from a real issue-- how do we provide complete information about food in a manner consistent with science?

Throughout the discussion scientists and some corporate officials stated repeatedly that labeling is not the problem-- Proposition 37 was the problem.  A potentially complex and expensive bureaucratic web would be created to police foodstuffs that have no inherent dangers.  That's just nuts.

At this time I think everyone in interested in this issue should coalesce around balancing two concepts in complete fairness-- information and science.

When we think about agriculture, technology and the future there is one apparent truth—we will need to produce more with less.  We are going to need to produce more food,with higher quality, closer to urban centers, with fewer agricultural inputs and impacts.

Why Throw-Away Statements Harm the Anti-GMO Movement

As an academic research scientist active at the public interface, I enjoy communicating about complex science topics. With regard to trasngenic (GMO) crops, if you read my blogs, comments left online, or listen to audiences in public discussions, you'll see that they ultimately reach a common point.

Someone always indicates that Monsanto is my employer. Like clockwork.

We are currently witnessing the USDA public commentary period on the Arctic Apple, a transgenic apple that does not exhibit browning upon injury or cutting.  The anti-browning trait was installed by scientists at Okanagan Specialty Fruits. A copy of the apple gene for polyphenol oxidase (PPO) was overexpressed, which triggers a plant response to silence the over-expressed gene.  The same process also suppresses the apple’s endogenous PPO genes.  Without this protein, the apple flesh cannot brown. 

If you want to scare somebody, convince them that there is a remote chance of danger in their food, water or medicine. Even if there is no evidence to back up the claim, people respond strongly to such information, causing them to abandon safe foods for alternatives. Today this fear factor is being played to influence food policy and politics, as activists realize they can change consumption with distortions of truth and perpetuation of food phobias and food anxiety. Because it works like a charm.

The Red Scare of 1976