A federal judge in Florida this week threw out horticulturalist Kevin Folta’s defamation lawsuit against The New York Times. Folta, a professor at the University of Florida, sued the Times and one of its reporters after they published an article about Folta’s ties to agricultural biotechnology companies including Monsanto. Folta previously faced allegations that he was too cozy with Monsanto, especially as he’d publicly advocated for genetically modified crops as safe to eat and good for the global food supply. Folta accepted some funds from “Big Ag” but he said it never impacted his scientific judgment.
Folta in his lawsuit called the Times’s reporting misleading and rife with “anti-GMO” bias. But Chief Judge Mark E. Walker ordered that the case be dismissed with prejudice, as is appropriate when “there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact.” Folta declined comment to the Tallahassee Democrat. Mark Caramanica, attorney for the Times, reportedly said, "This is a case that should have never been brought, over an important story based on Folta’s own communications that shed light on public academics’ relationships with the food industry."