The pro-GMO scientist Kevin Folta claims that people attack his integrity because they can't attack his science. But in reality, he makes many bogus – and extremely dangerous – statements in the name of science. Chief among these is his pronouncement on Twitter that his drinking the glyphosate-based herbicide Roundup demonstrates "harmlessness”, when the reality is that glyphosate herbicide has been fatal to humans.
Folta also makes reassuring but false claims about glyphosate and Roundup’s safety on GMO Answers, a public outreach website funded by a manufacturer of this herbicide, Monsanto, as well as other pesticide manufacturers such as Bayer, BASF, Syngenta, Dow and DuPont.
Folta was recently exposed for his ties to Monsanto after previously claiming he has "nothing to do with Monsanto".
Folta, who has no known medical or toxicology background, is listed as an expert on the GMO Answers website. He states, “If you weigh 200 pounds, you'd have to drink about two pounds of the 41 percent commercial concentrate to have a 50 percent chance of dying.”(1) But evidence suggests that people have died or have been seriously injured by drinking as little as 75-85ml.(2,3) Those who, like Folta, are over the age of 40 are at serious risk.(4)
Folta appears to think this is a joke, making statements like, "Even people that try to kill themselves by drinking it wake up in the morning feeling queasy (but are weed free!).”(5) But this is a serious matter that no ethical scientist would joke about.
Statements such as "glyphosate (which you can drink a glass of and nothing will happen other than getting acutely sick for a few hours)”(6) are reckless and put the lives of people in danger. Members of the public could be misled into believing he is an expert when he is not.
Several studies suggest the mean amount ingested in the fatal cases was >200 mL(2,7,8), a dose much lower than the 2 pounds Folta claims it would take for fatality to occur. Therefore Folta is acting irresponsibly.
As well as the risks of acute poisoning, the longer-term risks must be borne in mind. The World Health Organisations’ International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) considersglyphosate to be probably carcinogenic to humans. Prof Chris Portier, a cancer expert with IARC, said that Folta’s claims about glyphosate safety were “wrong”.
Folta teaches children in schools
How many young and impressionable people could have seen Folta drinking Roundup at these events and may have thought it a cool (but quite safe) way to shock their peers? Even if they didn't do anything so stupid themselves, they may well have told others about it.
Such statements and behaviour could also have influenced the care, or otherwise, with which people handle Roundup. After all, if an “expert” is telling you that you can safely down a pint of the stuff without worry, why even handle it with care?
Folta does outreach activities in schools. Children could easily look him up online. If their behaviour is influenced by his public comments, they could be seriously injured or killed as a result. Parents whose kids may interact with Folta need to ask themselves: Is this someone I want teaching my children?
The take-home message is this: Don't believe what you read from the so-called "experts" on GMO Answers. Their statements may be hazardous to your health.
1. “If you weigh 200 pounds, you'd have to drink about two pounds of the 41 percent commercial concentrate to have a 50 percent chance of dying." http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:K7fYrzjIyDgJ:https://gmoanswers.com/ask/maybe-gmos-arent-problem-they-are-only-enabler-case-roundup-ready-enabling-food-be-doused-it+&cd=1&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us
2. Roberts, Darren M., et al. "A prospective observational study of the clinical toxicology of glyphosate-containing herbicides in adults with acute self-poisoning." Clinical toxicology 48.2 (2010): 129-136. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2875113/
3. Bradberry SM, et. al. Glyphosate Poisoning. Toxicol Rev. 2004;23(3):159-67. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15862083
4. Sushanta Kr. Das, P. R. Anand Vijaya Kumar, S. Ponnusankar. 2012. Case report on glyphosate surfactant herbicide (Gly SH) poisoning: A systemic method for management. NSHM Journal of Pharmacy and Healthcare Management Vol. 03, February (2012) pp.112-115 http://www.academia.edu/7331048/CASE_REPORT_ON_GLYPHOSATE_HERBICIDE_POISONING?hc_location=ufi
5. "Glyphosate has been off patent since 2000, so Monsanto is not the only producer. Many independent studies have been done that show no effects at all in humans. Even people that try to kill themselves by drinking it wake up in the morning feeling queasy (but are weed free!)." https://web.archive.org/web/20140223100241/http://gmoanswers.com/ask/study-conducted-brazilian-researchers-found-acute-roundup-exposure-low-doses-36ppm-0036gl-30
6. "glyphosate (which you can drink a glass of and nothing will happen other than getting acutely sick for a few hours)." https://web.archive.org/web/20141003053740/http://sleuth4health.wordpress.com/2013/05/11/my-conversation-with-a-scientist-part-three-gmos/
7. "They calculated that the mean amount ingested in the fatal cases was slightly more than 200 milliliters (about 3/4 of a cup)."
Cox, Caroline. (1995) Glyphosate, Part 1: Toxicology Journal of Pesticide Reform, Volume 15, No. 3:14 -20
Cox, Caroline. (1995) Glyphosate, Pt. 2: Human Exposure and Ecological Effects Journal of Pesticide Reform Vol.15, No. 4:14-19 http://www.1hope.org/glyphos8.htm
8. "Respiratory distress, pulmonary edema, respiratory distress necessitating intubation, shock (systolic blood pressure less than 90 mm Hg), altered consciousness, abnormal chest x-ray, renal failure necessitating hemodialysis, larger amount of ingestion (>200 mL), and hyperkalemia were predictors highly associated with poor outcomes and mortality."
Lee, H. L., Chen, K. W., Chi, C. H., Huang, J. J., & Tsai, L. M. (2000). Clinical Presentations and Prognostic Factors of a Glyphosate—Surfactant Herbicide Intoxication A Review of 131 Cases. Academic Emergency Medicine, 7(8), 906-910.
Originally Published: GM Watch