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Exposed Monsanto shill Kevin Folta partners with discredited Forbes.com to deceive public about GMO cancer link

Kevin Folta

(NaturalNews) On June 1, the discredited biotech puppet publication Forbes.com published an article entitled "Why GMOs Don't Cause Cancer," by Michael Stebbins. Stebbins is a spokesperson for the GMO industry front group GMO Answers, and she works for its parent organization, the Council for Biotechnology Information.

The article – framed as a news story, but carrying a disclaimer that the contributor is solely responsible for its content – relies heavily on discredited biotech advocate Kevin Folta, who was famously exposed in 2015 as having lied when he claimed that he had no financial ties to biotechnology giant Monsanto.

And Folta's participation is only the tip of the iceberg in the deceptive techniques used by the disingenuous Forbes piece.

How biotech companies buy scientists

The conflicts of interest alone should be enough to call the article's veracity into doubt. Although Stebbins is listed as the author of the article, the "contributor" is identified as GMO Answers. Clicking on a link for more information informs the reader that "GMO Answers is funded by the members of the Council for Biotechnology Information, which includes BASF, Bayer, Dow AgroSciences, DuPont, Monsanto Company and Syngenta."

To evaluate claims that GMOs have been linked to cancer, the article quotes Folta as saying: "There is absolutely zero reputable evidence that GMO foods cause cancer."

Folta is identified simply as "professor and chairman of the Horticultural Sciences Department at the University of Florida, Gainesville." The article does not reveal that Folta himself is a regular spokesperson for GMO Answers. It certainly makes no mention of the notorious Freedom of Information Act request that revealed – in spite of Folta's claims that he had "no connection" with Monsanto – that Folta's institution had received a $25,000 grant from the company, and that Folta had received expense reimbursements for his "educational" talks on GMOs. It was later revealed that Monsanto paid for Folta to attend Monsanto-sponsored talks about GMOs and debunking organic foods.

Folta had also received emails from Monsanto's public relations firm, Ketchum, with suggested talking points for him to use in his GMO advocacy ("education").

Trying to bury the evidence

So it's no surprise that in the Forbes piece, Folta toes the party line, claiming that "years of careful evaluation" (Stebbins' words) prove that none of the ingredients in GMOs can possibly cause the development of cancer in human cells – without citing any such studies, or explaining how such a sweeping claim can be scientifically credible.

Folta mentions one study showing that the Bt protein (present in many GMOs) could lead to precancerous changes in cells, but then dismisses it on the grounds that cell-based studies are not the same as human studies – even though cell-based lab studies are one of the foundations of modern medical research. He ignores other studies that have shown a GMO-cancer link, such as the 2012 study in which rats fed GMO corn containing traces of the herbicide Roundup developed mammary (breast) tumors and liver and kidney damage, whereas the control rats did not. GMO-exposed rats died at roughly twice the rate of control rats.

Departing from Folta, the Forbes article goes on to mock the International Agency for Research on Cancer as seeing carcinogens everywhere, as a way to discredit the agency's recent finding that glyphosate/Roundup – sprayed on GMO crops in enormous quantities – is probably carcinogenic.

The Forbes article is deceptive in a final, more subtle and more pervasive fashion: by pretending that cancer is the only health risk that GMO critics are concerned about. By focusing exclusively on cancer, the author is able to ignore the host of other health risks from GMOs that have even stronger evidence behind them.

In 2010, the American Academy of Environmental Medicine warned that evidence is strong enough that GMOs directly cause health harm to warrant warning people to avoid eating them. The academy noted that numerous studies and incidents have suggested that GMOs can cause problems including immune dysfunction, insulin disorders and damage to organs and the reproductive system.

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