The hypocrisy of GMO advocates

There has been a storm brewing in research for some time now. Several years ago, a researcher by the name Giles Eric Seralini posted a peer-reviewed study that stated that glyphosate potentially caused cancer in rats.

He was immediately attacked. Some of the criticism, absolutely valid. Scientists commonly quibble over methodology. Some of it personal. Attacks continued, some entirely unrelated to the actual study.  A group called the Genetic Literacy Project attacked Seralini because he had received funding from an organic research group, and stated that he had a conflict of interest.

There was supposed to be a debate hosted by the Cato Institute and organized by Jon Entine (of the American Enterprise Institute which advocates for large businesses) who was the founder of the Genetic Literacy Project. They wanted to include a researcher by the name of Kevin Folta. Seralini withdrew from the debate.

Seralini sued several of his detractors who libeled him and won in court. However, it has not stopped the pro-GMO lobby from attacking him further.

Kevin Folta has claimed to be an independent researcher and a science communicator. He has written several pro-GMO papers and advocated further research into GMOs. This is all completely and totally reasonable. A group filed a freedom of information request for his academic emails because they suspected that he had ties to Monsanto that he was not disclosing. Now there is an argument to be made here about using FOIA’s for intimidating the scientific community into silence. I truly believe this is a problem. However, it was used, and it was honored. It showed that Kevin Folta had been communicating directly with Monsanto and industry insiders. In fact, he had passed off several blog posts written by GMO Answers as his own work. This was all exposed in a New York Times piece https://www.nytimes.com/2015/09/06/us/food-industry-enlisted-academics-in-gmo-lobbying-war-emails-show.html?mcubz=0 . Folta’s university has also received grants and funding from Monsanto.

This is all old news. What is relatively new news, however, is that Folta has sued the New York Times for libel because he claims that he has no financial ties to Monsanto. This, of course, could be true if we narrowly confine the definition of financial ties. He has used funds from Monsanto through his University to travel and fund his outreach programs. This would be similar to me saying I have no financial ties to the organic industry- but of course, my wife works for an organic advocacy group which helps pay my mortgage. He has claimed that the New York Times has an anti-GMO agenda in his suit. https://geneticliteracyproject.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/FOLTA_NYT-COMPLAINT-1.pdf I have personally always found them to be fairly even-handed on this topic. Although they have mentioned that GMO’s have failed to live up to their promise, they also posted several articles defending them https://www.nytimes.com/2016/05/18/business/genetically-engineered-crops-are-safe-analysis-finds.html?mcubz=0 .

What I do find, well, funny I guess, is the thin skin of Kevin Folta and the Genetic Literacy Project. Kevin Folta is upset that his reputation has been tarnished by exposing inconvenient facts. They are completely entitled to do this, however, I do find it a bit hypocritical. After all, they are only being upset at the fact that someone would dare to treat them the way they treated Eric Seralini.

Lucas Rumler

About Lucas Rumler

Hi! I’m originally from the land of Soybeans and Corn- heck growing up the tallest thing in our town was the grain elevator- and moved to Maine in 2008. I fell in love with the state, and then the Saint who would eventually become my wife (much to her dismay on most days). We settled in her hometown- Mount Vernon, primarily because going back to my hometown didn’t really appeal to us- they closed down the grain elevator so the tallest thing now is a water tower… it’s just sad really. Since we started dating we had planned on ending up in Mount Vernon and have been lucky enough to make it happen. We are active and involved in our community, we homestead, and we both work full time. We are trying to balance the stresses of living and working in this state while at the same time trying to strengthen our little corner of the world.