Scientist Responds to Activist’s Attack on Biofortified Banana: “Let’s Talk Science”

April 2, 2015

Two weeks after Vandana Shiva savagely criticized research on a nutritionally-enhanced GE banana at Iowa State University, University of Florida scientist Kevin Folta arrived in Ames, and presented a powerful counter lecture seeking to set the record straight about the science on GE foods.

Shiva, a globally-known activist, has devoted much of her career to criticizing ag biotech, and during her March 11 visit to Iowa she not only criticized Iowa farmers planting GE crops, but criticized research planned at Iowa State to evaluate the benefits of vitamin A-fortified bananas.

A group of Iowa State scientists wanted a forceful counter to the claims in Shiva s talk to more than 700 at ISU s Memorial Union. And on March 25, they got it. Perhaps no biotech scientist has devoted more time and effort to fact-checking and countering Shiva s claims than Kevin Folta, professor and chairman of the University of Florida s Horticultural Science department. Folta has travelled to Hawaii after Shiva s 2013 visit, and has written extensively about her fiery rhetoric and anti-GE claims, including a response on his blog to Shiva s claims during a visit to Florida s Eckerd College.

During his March 25 visit to Ames, Folta gave a talk in Iowa State s Curtiss Hall explaining the science behind GM, and the lost opportunities resulting from the fear-mongering and misinformation spread by activists like Vandana Shiva. In addition to his lecture, Folta hosted a workshop designed to help Iowa State scientists learn the facts about biotech and better communicate them.