critique from reddit:
Kevin Folta is asserting highly propagandistic views in this podcast. It is alarming that so few people on this board see through his bullshit - I suppose he was hired as a public scientist for a good reason. In any case, consciously or not, Folta is functioning as a shill and I'll try to explain why:
He begins the podcast by framing the issues surrounding GMOs and the oligarchic power within agribusiness in such a way as to reduce it to a 'debate' over what GMOs are in principal. Reducing it to this allows him to focus on what genetic engineering is, how ubiquitous it has been before modern technological techniques and what potential it has. While much of this is rational and generally correct (and this is why most of you seem to respect Folta), there's a catch: this argument is not one outside of the major media outlets where the real critiques of companies like Monsanto are. By focusing on this pseudo-argument, Folta creates a red herring to distract the public from the very real and very important issues. The pseudo-argument is alluring for it is very easy to agree with and convincing enough to vigorously oppose those who don't understand it: the technology is neutral with the potential to make food more abundantly available, more nutritious, cheaper, bigger, etc. and anyone opposed to these beautiful things must be crazy and irrational! But this a non-argument, a classic major media smokescreen by and large (though of course some irrationally fear GMOs in principal due to a lack of understanding the science). The propaganda Folta asserts is in focusing on the smokescreen and ignoring the real issues, but it isn't in just what he omits that we can criticize Folta for being propagandistic, but it is what he overtly says too.
Folta doesn't seem to be aware, for whatever reason, that the highly subsidized Western agribusinesses contribute heavily to keeping developing nations in poverty by forcing them to compete in the 'free market'. And, unlike what Folta believes, the lack of food for some 1+ billion people in the world is not due to an inability to use modern techniques of genetic manipulation, but to political and economic factors involving exploitation (which dates back to colonization). This is a very important point to get across because the whole story of "GMOs will save us all" falls apart as delusional fantasy when we look at the underlying causes of wide-scale global hunger/starvation. It's the same story we're told by 'futurists' where we hear that technology will free us from our suffering with abundance followed by transcendence when in truth it is a gross misunderstanding and extrapolation of modern science that undermines who technology is for and how it is used. These are secular fairytales used to distract us (and to promote technological development, with the help of the taxpayer) while the dynamic of Superpower and its allies continue to suppress and kill the oppressed and ravage the world's resources unsustainably.
Another issue Folta gets wrong is when he assures the listeners that GMOs are safe for consumption. This is the same bullshit that the defenders of big pharma will assert. The oligarchy of agribusiness simply want to maximize profits. This means introducing genetic modifications and chemicals/pesticides to reach this goal, whether or not it is safe for consumption. Sure, it's not going to kill the consumer or farmer outright, but the fact of the matter is that the regulation on this is very weak and is exacerbated of course by lobbying. To accumulate enough data to ensure safety would be way outside the short-term concerns the authoritarian corporate structure allows for and big agribusiness is no exception. In addition, such modifications to crops are never about nutrient density, which may very well be on the decline in most fruits and vegetables that are genetically engineered, which means you may have to eat 6 apples to get the nutrients of what 1 non-GE apple may have provided, leading to continually less healthy consumers. So by claiming that GMOs are safe across the board and by claiming that corporations like Monsanto strive for very safe GMOs because they wouldn't turn a profit otherwise as if profits don't outweigh lawsuits with these corporations is a flat-out untruthful attempt by Folta to get us to appeal to authority - the science and data do not exist to conclusively say that all of these GMOs and chemicals used are safe for consumption like he insists. He's just lying here or quite unbelievably ignorant. He should know as a scientist that the interactions are utterly complex and even subtle changes can have drastic effects long-term, especially with complications such as cancer. This is common sense a layman can understand: we are the product of a very long history of evolution where the protein interactions in our natural diet and environment are so precise that even small changes can disrupt large biological systems. This attempt to get us to appeal to authority is also accompanied by a display of complete ignorance to how transnationals operate (by failing to mention the lobbying, how they don't test for long-term health effects, how unsustainable the use of many fertilizers are, etc.). At what point does the ignorance become propaganda? One look at where his grant money comes from and I can imagine the right answer is: the very beginning.
Folta also seems to think that this oligarchy is benevolent and merely wants to benefit from its honestly earned R&D, unaware of the fact that the taxpayers, through subsidies, take the hit through mechanisms like the Farm Bill in the US while these corporations reap all the profits. This is a very important point to understand how these transnationals operate: they use public funds for things like R&D to eventually generate private profit and they undeservedly and horrendously continue to capitalize on their patents (that the public pays for!) all the while lobbying against deregulation and participating secretly in writing bills like the TPP - all to maximize profits.
Folta seems to be completely ignorant to the consequences of an oligarchy too, namely that once these patents are in place and become intellectual property of the corporations (again, thanks to you, the taxpayers), they can continue to raise the prices of their products (seeds, fertilizers, crops etc.). This technique will continue squeezing out family farmers domestically and devastating developing-nations farmers and peasants, allowing them to manipulate the market at will, fluctuating their prices (expectedly in the upward direction) without competition and with such power as to render safety regulations meaningless outside of very obvious and immediate hazardous effects (which will be, as they already are, less restrictive in developing nations). Folta believes farmers want patented seeds because they are simply so great due their effectiveness, but the truth is that probably most family farmers would actually want to be organic, but this technology creates a market 'force' that cannot be competed against in this state-capitalist system. Increased crop yield, increased pest resistance, increased weather resistance, heavier produce that ripens slower and the like must be used for farmers to survive in the this globalized market - an ideal scenario for the oligarchy. This is strengthened through economic instruments such as the WTO as well, which, among other things, ensure that it is illegal for countries to favour locally sourced goods.
He also fails to mention the unsustainable nature of the agricultural practices of these transnationals, such as the soil erosion from their fertilizers, the massive deforestation in the Amazon for soybean farms (to feed cattle), phosphorus depletion, etc.
The bottom line is that food is a necessity for human life and when Folta so ignorantly reveres the potential of biotech at the cost of the reality of how it's used, when he downplays the effects of centralized corporate control and distorts the facts of how they operate, when he willfully ignores the unsustainable agricultural practices that devastate the poor, warms our climate and makes our future uncertain, he contributes to this oligarchic takeover that will destroy us and much of the life on this planet.