One of the most interesting developments in the ongoing debate over genetically modified organisms is the saga of Kevin Folta, one of the Biotech industry’s chosen spokesmen to sell the masses on the supposed benefits of its technologies.
Folta is a big-time believer in the alleged promises of GMOs, and his knowledge in this area has helped him to carve out a unique niche: as the industry’s unofficial chief PR head and social media damage control expert.
The fervor of Mr. Folta, and his ability to skillfully debate the many critics of Monsanto’s favored technology, has granted him access to millions, even landing him on some of the media world’s biggest stages.
But Folta’s run, at least in his current position, appears to officially be over as he has announced his resignation as the Chairman of Horticultural Sciences at the University of Florida.
Folta Resigns Amid Calls to Investigate Monsanto Money, Alleged Abuse Against Women
In a resignation email Friday, Folta said his decision was based in large part on damaging attacks from activist groups, as well as the personal difficulties of dealing with a divorce. He also has said he faced death threats as the result of his work.
According to the Facebook page and website GMO Free USA, a petition was launched earlier to the University of Florida to investigate Folta’s alleged misdeeds, which were exposed in a recent New York Times investigation.
According to the Times, Folta was exposed for lying about “having nothing to do with Monsanto.” He claimed not to take money from Monsanto even though the investigation said he took $25,000 from the company.
Similar allegations have also been brought up by his estranged wife, who has accused him of trying to “hide corporate monies” and thousands of shares involving tens of thousands of dollars, GMO Free USA said.
He has also allegedly been paid consulting fees from Bayer, which recently purchased Monsanto for more than $60 billion, the post continued.
Folta believes she is out to get him, and had the following to say in response to finance-related accusations.
“Her job is to destroy me now, so she’ll be doing this for years,” Folta said according to his Twitter account. “My finances are transparent and always will be. She just didn’t bother to read before writing her garbage.”
Hiding Corporate Money May Be the Tip of the Iceberg for Folta
In addition to the above concerns, Folta has also been accused of being abusive toward women in general, including his ex-wife, after a women’s shelter refused to accept his donations because their director allegedly saw him kicking her, according to a report from GMWatch.org.
These concerns were raised by a signed statement from the director of the shelter, who reportedly witnessed the assault and said that what Folta’s ex-wife described to her is “consistent with things I have heard from the hundreds of women I have counseled that have been abused and manipulated by their husbands.”
Folta has also been accused of abusive speech toward women on social media as well, according to the GMO Free USA post.
The organization made the following statement on Facebook:
“There is now much more awareness of domestic violence, sexual harrassment and the abuse of women. The country is speaking loudly in favor of zero tolerance for these dangerous and inappropriate behaviors. Dr. Folta is in a position of authority over students and faculty at UF. In this context, as well as that of public accountablity, it is not only UF’s responsibility to investigate, but its duty to do so.”
Folta said prior to his resignation that he did not have enough time to adequately carry out his job.
“(W)hen you have personal matters to take care of and are being targeted by these groups (specifically GMWatch.org in this case, he said), it’s not fair to have to split my time that needs to be 100 percent devoted to my research, and to my faculty and to leadership,” Folta said.
Thumbnail photo via The Action Network petition.