Why Does UCSF Host Activist Smear Campaigns Against Public Scientists?

Kevin Folta
3 min readMay 5, 2018

The other day on Twitter I saw an unusual entry that led a popcorn trail to a new level of public records abuse at new taxpayer expense.

Thacker says that you should trust UCSF, a top medical school, and its archive on me in the “Chemical Industry Documents”. Hosted by taxpayers to attack taxpayer-funded scientists.

It’s my old buddy Paul Thacker, the guy that writes unfortunately inaccurate articles about me and others that ultimately end retracted or sporting corrections. He always seeks a way rub his stink on me, in a clear attempt to harm a public, academic scientist that teaches from the literature.

And in this case he does not disappoint. He posts a curious website, the Industry Documents Library at the University of California San Francisco. To Thacker and his buddies at US-RTK (the industry-funded hate group that seeks to silence and/or harm public scientists) this database has become a new repository for their “evidence” of foul connections between academics like me and the chemical industry.


Of the 4,000 documents in the Chemical Industry Archive I’m 10% of them, a lifelong public scientist that has 99% of his funding from public sources (USDA, NSF) and the Florida Strawberry Industry. I’m in no way involved in chemical industry “manufacturing, operations, regulatory activities and scientific research.”

First, chemical industry? Industry database? The first entry is an email between me and folks at Cornell University. They asked me to sign a recording waiver for my seminar, and I inquired if Prof. Ron Herring could join me on a podcast. Chemical industry?

The second is me and UC Davis’ Dr. Alison Van Eenennaam. Chemical industry?

Maybe there are some emails with friends in the seed companies in there somewhere. I didn’t dig deep, but these are mostly personal emails between academics; me and another professor. This is not illicit conversations with the “chemical industry.”

However, Thacker, Ruskin and company use the fact that these emails exist in this database as overwhelming evidence of malfeasance. That’s spread via Twitter and other conduits. Oh, and they put the emails in the database.

US-RTK, an industry-funded hate group, cons UCSF library to host my private emails, calling it “chemical industry” communication. I’m mostly speaking with academics, students, others. Your tax dollars at work!

I called the UCSF Library and spoke with Kate Tasker. She was polite, but insisted the documents were bona-fide proof of deep chemical industry collusion that were appropriately cataloged in that collection.

She has no interest in taking the documents down, no interest in investigating the lack of relevance to the “chemical industry”. To them, US-RTK is doing its job as a public watchdog, fingering chemical industry pawns like me, lifelong public scientists they want to silence.

All the while Thacker and others exploit UCSF’s credibility to add gravity to their hateful false claims.

Here’s the bottom line. My emails are provided to activists at taxpayer cost, then are handed over by activists to a taxpayer-funded database, posted with the intention to a harm taxpayer-funded scientist.

Where’s John Stossel when you need him?



Kevin Folta

Professor, podcast host, fruit tree grower, keynote speaker, good trouble.