In the wake of the latest allegations that GMO promoter Professor Kevin Folta has been abusing his wife, Folta has resigned from his position as chair of the University of Florida's (UF) Horticultural Sciences Department, citing "personal reasons".
The news came in a statement by UF spokesperson Margot Winick. However, Winick added that Folta "retains his employment as a full professor and has research responsibilities."
GMWatch and the US-based NGO, GMO Free USA, believe that in light of the serious nature of the accusations against Folta, the university's actions thus far are inadequate. Those accusations include allegations by the director of a women's shelter that she saw Folta kick his wife. The shelter director returned donations to the shelter that Folta had made.
The allegations of spousal abuse follow previous misdeeds by Folta, including his failure to be transparent about his connections with industry and his extreme lack of ethics. Folta's estranged wife has also accused him of hiding corporate monies – thousands of shares and tens of thousands of dollars may be involved.
UF has chosen to ignore Folta's misdeeds, as industry loves him, and corporate dollars keep flowing into the University's coffers. But new revelations mean they must finally take action.
TAKE ACTION: GMO Free USA is asking people to send a letter to officials at the University of Florida asking them to suspend Folta while it conducts a full investigation. The action is quick and easy and will just take a few moments. Over 1000 letters have been sent already.
Folta's history of aggressive behaviour towards women
The allegation that Folta assaulted his wife is not the first instance of worrying and inappropriate behaviour toward women. In the past, Folta has aggressively attacked women, engaged in name calling, abusive language, and bullying, as documented in blogs, social media posts, and emails released under FOIA requests. Examples include:
* Folta aggressively attacked the researcher Madeleine Love, calling her a “a hideous evil person”.
* Folta called the veteran journalist Carey Gillam a “hideous human” and “disgusting”.
* Folta called the science writer Brooke Borel “one of the most evil and cold people I have ever met.”
* Folta called his own wife “truly evil”.
* Folta implied that one of his closest women allies was also “evil” after she criticized Monsanto’s millennial director and implied that Folta’s use of language was sexist. His onslaught led to her telling him he had revealed a part of himself “that I and others see as a cruel, insensitive, unwise, selfish, narrow-minded streak.”
* Folta was asked by Ketchum, PR firm to the GMO industry, to make a video about the pro-GMO labelling campaigner Rachel Parent. Soon afterwards, a video appeared online featuring Folta attempting to discredit Parent, who was only 14 years old at the time. Parent commented that the tone of the video was “almost degrading”.
In addition to Folta's attacks on women, he has labelled scientists that he disagrees with fraudsters, charlatans and even morons, without producing any evidence to back up these vicious attacks.
For all these reasons, GMO Free USA believes that it's time that UF took action to properly investigate the concerns about Folta. As GMO Free USA says, "We’re not just talking about a serious lack of ethics but a possible crime – the University must find out exactly why the women’s shelter returned his donations."
GMO Free USA continues, "There is much increased awareness of domestic violence, sexual harassment and the stalking of women. The country is speaking loudly in favour of zero tolerance for these dangerous and inappropriate behaviours. Dr. Folta is in a position of authority over students and faculty at UF. In this context, as well as the context of accountability to the public, it is not only UF’s responsibility to investigate, but UF’s duty to do so. UF can no longer sweep Dr. Folta’s behaviour under the carpet just because he’s such a favourite with industry."
Please send a letter to UF asking them to suspend Folta while carrying out a full investigation.