Independent Expert

Kevin Folta

Professor and Chairman, Horticultural Sciences Department, University of Florida

Kevin Folta is a professor in and chairman of the Horticultural Sciences Department at the University of Florida, Gainesville. He got his Ph.D. in Molecular Biology from University of Illinois at Chicago in 1998, and he has worked at University of Wisconsin before settling in at University of Florida. Dr. Folta researches the functional genomics of small fruit crops, the plant transformation, the genetic basis of flavors, and studies at photomorphogenesis and flowering. He has also written many publications and edited books, most recently was the 2011 Genetics, Genomics, and Breeding of Berries. Dr. Folta received the NSF CAREER Award, an HHMI Mentoring Award and was recognized as "University of Florida Foundation Research Professor" in 2010.

 

From this Expert

Posted On: Friday, 5/09/2014 1:33 pm
A: I'm glad to answer your question as a scientist, but also as someone who is raising his niece. I'd never give her something dangerous, and in our house we absolutely do not worry about GM foods.  Your question implies a negative effect of the technology, much like that derived from anti-GM websites. The scientific answer is that there are absolutely no cases of any harm from this technology in 17 years of use. That's in small children and adults — no problems.  If you search the web... Continue Reading
Posted On: Thursday, 4/24/2014 11:28 pm
A: I'm a scientist and educator, so it is really important for me that our public understands science and technology. It is hard to see a good technology that has been used with an amazing safety and efficacy record get trashed.  So that's why I dip my toe into the discussion. We don't "think they are safe"; when we look at the data, there is no evidence to the contrary after 17 years on the market.  I can't speak for others, but I see this technology as a great way to solve problems... Continue Reading
Posted On: Tuesday, 3/18/2014 12:44 pm
A: The short answer is no, there is absolutely zero reputable evidence that GMO foods cause cancer.  Cancer is a name applied to a spectrum of diseases where cells proliferate abnormally. There is no way that the subtle and well-understood alterations of a plant’s genes can cause cancer. There is nothing about the Bt protein (used in insect resistance, also in organic pest control), the EPSPS enzyme (which confers herbicide resistance simply by substituting for the native enzyme in the... Continue Reading
Posted On: Sunday, 3/16/2014 8:32 pm
A: The report you refer to is by Paz-y-Miño et al. (2007), published in the journal Genetics and Molecular Biology, a small Brazilian journal (impact factor 0.73, so not a well-recognized journal). César Paz-y-Miño has an OK publication record and studies a number of regional issues using his expertise. This report assesses "DNA damage" using what's called a "comet assay," an assay in which cells are placed into an agar matrix and subjected to an electric field. DNA is charged, so it moves to the... Continue Reading
Posted On: Saturday, 3/15/2014 5:41 pm
A: First, there is no GM zucchini, but I'll be happy to chase a hypothetical scenario. The fruit is maternal tissue, meaning that every cell comes from the mother plant's tissues. The only "GMO" part would be the embryo and parts of the seed; potentially somewhere between half and all of the embryos would contain a transgene. I hope this helps.
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