gmo free usa – attacking the man and not the ball

OK, so I'm back (from a lovely long overseas trip). And I had thought to write something 'light' to ease myself back into blogging, but then I see that scientist and science communicator, Kevin Folta, is currently experiencing some dreadful personal attacks via social media for his stance on genetic modification of crops. You'll find Kevin's take on this here, and examples of what he's facing on sites such as this Facebook page owned by GMO Free USA.

This isn't about the man's science. This is simply a series of extremely nasty ad hominem attacks, which tends to suggest that his opponents can't find any valid critiques of the actual scientific research that Dr Folta carries out. And which in turn leads me to paraphrase the words of the late Margaret Thatcher

I always cheer up immensely if an attack is particularly wounding because I think, well, if they attack one personally, it means they have not a single [scientific] argument left.

Unfortunately the end result may well be to silence the voices of scientists working in any field that attracts controversy1 – although to some degree scientists are pushing back, as evidenced by the following excerpt from a 2010 letter to the journal Science:

We also call for an end to McCarthy- like threats of criminal prosecution against our colleagues based on innuendo and guilt by association, the harassment of scientists by politicians seeking distractions to avoid taking action, and the outright lies being spread about them.

Hang in there, Dr Folta!


1 For those with a spare half-hour, there's an interesting video on the subject here.

And while I'm at it – could the media PLEASE stop using those photos of syringes stuck into pieces of fruit, to illustrate stories on GM and GMOs? They are just wrong in so many ways!

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