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Showing posts from September, 2015

Cherry Picking and "Return on Investment"

In a textbook case of cherry picking, one sentence keeps emerging in the activist trial-by-internet concerning the Monsanto donation to my science communication program.  The backstory is that my university received a donation from the company toward my outreach program, which covered the costs for me to travel and teach scientists how to talk about science.  That was very nice of them, wonderful.  Having funds to rent a facility, travel to the location, buy coffee/doughnuts or subs for the workshop is a real help. Previously this was all funded personally buy taking monies offered to me as speaker fees and deferring them to the Talking Biotech program.  I remain extremely grateful for their support, even after those funds have been allocated elsewhere by the university.  I was so grateful, that I noted this in an email to the Monsanto Company.  That became a huge deal when 4600 pages of emails were seized by activists back in June.  Out of the tens of thousands of sentences t

Talking Biotech #17 -- Insects and Ag, Art & Science, McClintock on the $10

This week's Talking Biotech!! This week we’re joined by Richard Levine, communications director for the Entomological Society of America.  We discuss bees, butterflies, insecticides and some of the current issues in crop protection from an entomological perspective.  We then turn to the idea of promoting artwork using a science podcast, and the important effort to get Dr. Barbara McClintock on the ten dollar bill, replacing some guy. We discuss the barriers to her participation in science, and describe why she would be such a fitting presence on our currency– not just because she was a woman, not just because she was a scientist, but because she broken down barriers.

Setting a New Standard in Science Transparency

Recent events have brought criticism that I believe can be addressed with more information. The whole story is posted here on Huffington Post Blogs. This story contains a link to PDFs that shows all of my outreach and extension activities, how much I was reimbursed, how much I was paid and what honoraria were received (and where they went). This will be posted here at least bi-monthly, so bookmark this page. The complete list of Kevin Folta outreach and extension activities: July 2013-September 19, 2015

What are "Close Ties" to Monsanto? A FAQ.

FAQ What exactly are "close ties"?  These claims were make by Keith Kloor in the August Nature article.  The same claims are now reiterated in following articles, without justification, simply based on that initial statement. Of course, I never claimed to have a working relationship with Monsanto, because I don't have one. But let's clarify what this relationship is once and for all. What are "close ties"?  (Apologies to Keith Kloor, I did originally write this blog with "deep ties" and that's my mistake) Here is the extent of interaction with the Monsanto Corporation: Are these close, personal or research ties I need to disclose at every research seminar?  You decide.  Tell me in the comments section.  1. Donation to science outreach program that paid no salary or personal funds.   These (relatively small) funds were designed to cover a small projector, facility rental, plane tickets, rental cars/taxi costs, coffee-doughnuts-sandwich

The FOIA Babe, and the New Abuse of Vanity Harassment

I’ve been a critic of the Food Babe for a long time.   Actually, I’ve been the critic of anyone that attempts to manipulate the public perception of science, while presenting zero scientific evidence.   Especially deplorable are those that use fear to force a message, and scare people about safe food while profiting in the process. It’s an old story now, but when ‘Food Babe’ Vani Hari visited my university to sell her science-blind worldview I was not exactly thrilled.  We professors are tasked to teach from evidence, with foundation in a scholarly literature.  Why would we subject our students to the daft rants of a dim food activist that lines her pockets by frightening people away from safe food? I have always been an appropriate critic.  I’ve addressed her specific points with evidence and even have been complimentary at times.  She certainly is a gifted communicator, and can mobilize the drones that exploit social media to blackmail corporations into aggressive change, no

Cherry Picking to Harm Reputations

As a scientist that has only spoken facts and truths about biotechnology, I have become the enemy of those that want to propagate myth, and scare people away from safe food. I have been active in public education on the topic for 15 years. In February the US Right to Know organization, backed by funding from the Organic Consumers Association, used public records laws to confiscate 5000 pages of email from me.  When you turn over 5000 pages of email to people that want to harm you, guess what?  They will attempt to harm you.  This is another perfect example of their best smoking gun, a pulled, out-of-context quotation that seeks to frame me as some sort of corporate lackey.  Here it is: Sounds pretty insidious!  But what does it really say in context?  It starts with a hideous scare commercial that is aired by GMO labeling campaigns in Fall 2014. They show Ray Seidler holding conventional corn seeds along with a handful of untreated seeds.  The associated rhetoric

Recent Events FAQ

1. What is your relationship with Monsanto? I have no formal relationship with the company.  Friends, former students, colleagues from previous jobs work there.  They once made a relatively small donation to my university to cover travel/production costs of my science communication program in August of 2014.  The entire original amount was reallocated to a campus charity. Monsanto does not fund my research and never has. I have spoken at the company twice about science communication and enjoyed collegial hospitality. As is clear by emails, I'm glad to share thoughts and opinions with them on science communication. I hold no formal capacity in this regard. I do this with any company and show no special favor to Monsanto. 2. What is your relationship with Ketchum? Ketchum runs the GMO Answers website. As an educator, I’m always excited about new ways to communicate science, and am especially eager to harness the reach of well-designed and promoted electronic media. Th

The Lobbyist of Love...

Lots has been said about me lately, and while it is tempting to respond, I have to retreat inside my own head.  I know what I've said, I know the facts, and it has always been the truth, and so time will be kind.   Authors are looking for a story, and showing conspiracies and collusion always raises an eyebrow, so these folks are just out to make a splash at the expense of others, even if facts are thin and don't exactly mesh with reality.  Welcome to Journalism 2015. To be characterized as a lobbyist is rather laughable, and as such makes this a non-issue.  Here's something to think about-- if scientists are not supposed to be speaking to politicians, farmers, companies and the public about science, then who should?  I'm doing my job, and doing it well, and I don't have a budget for travel.  If politicians and companies want to hear about the science, they should at least get me a plane ticket to come talk about it. Speaking of which, back in October I was aske