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Dennis Gray

Professor of Developmental Biology, University of Florida

Expert Bio

Dennis Gray is a Professor of Developmental Biology at the University of Florida/IFAS Mid-Florida Research and Education Center (MREC), where he conducts research designed to facilitate the genetic improvement of grapevine. Dr. Gray founded and directs the Grape Biotechnology Research Laboratory at the University of Florida. Over its 30-year history, the laboratory has developed a number of key procedures in cellular and molecular biology required to genetically improve grapevine for disease resistance and growth enhancement. A focus of the research has been to study the expression of native grape genes. High-throughput systems designed to evaluate grape gene function are well-established. These new technologies facilitate the creation of plants that contain only grape-derived DNA though a process termed “precision breeding.” Precision breeding is an offshoot of conventional breeding and provides a way to target specific traits, like improved disease resistance, without disturbing other desirable characteristics of existing cultivars. Precision-bred selections are undergoing evaluation at field sites in the southeastern US. Selected publications and presentations describing this research can be accessed at http://www.mrec.ifas.ufl.edu/grapes/genetics.

Dr. Gray has published over 180 articles in scientific journals. He has co-edited five popular textbooks covering the topics of plant tissue culture and biotechnology. He has contributed approximately 60 chapters to various books. Dr. Gray is the Editor in Chief of “Critical Reviews in Plant Sciences,” a refereed journal with a current impact factor of 5.3.

Dr. Gray was awarded the University of Florida’s Research Foundation Professorship in 1998 and he received the 2002 USDA Secretary's Honor Awards for outstanding research accomplishments in grape biotechnology. He received UF/IFAS awards for research in 2008 and 2009. He became a fellow of the Society for In Vitro Biology in 2010.

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Q: It is my understanding as a graduate student in molecular anthropology that we consider anything that has been domesticated as a GMO, because domestication is one of the earliest forms of genetic engineering. I was wondering whenever I hear GMOs rightfull

Answered By Dennis Gray - Aug 01, 2014

A: I agree that it has essentially has been a lapse on scientists’ part not to express this “truth” whenever appropriate. I believe that allowing the definition of “GMO” to be limited to the use of modern scientific technologies has, over time, caused its placement within the context of genetic improvement to be lost. Especially for non-specialists, there seems to be a tendency to not understand that all foodstuff contain DNA and with no to few exceptions, were and are deliberately modified by humankind. At first, the modifications were accomplished without understanding the underlying gene [...]

How GMOs Are Made Pesticides