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Dr. Peter H. Raven

President Emeritus, Missouri Botanical Garden

Expert Bio

Peter H. Raven is one of the world's leading botanists and advocates of conservation and biodiversity.

For four decades, he headed the Missouri Botanical Garden, an institution he nurtured into a world-class center for botanical research and education, and horticultural display. He retired as president in 2010 and assumed the role of president emeritus and consultant through 2014.

Described by Time magazine as a "Hero for the Planet," Raven champions research around the world to preserve endangered plants and is a leading advocate for conservation and a sustainable environment.

In recognition of his work in science and conservation, Raven is the recipient of numerous prizes and awards, including the prestigious International Prize for Biology from the government of Japan and the U.S. National Medal of Science, the country's highest award for scientific accomplishment. He has held Guggenheim and John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation fellowships.

Raven was a member of President Bill Clinton's Committee of Advisors on Science and Technology. He also served for 12 years as home secretary of the National Academy of Sciences and is a member of the academies of science in Argentina, Brazil, China, Denmark, India, Italy, Mexico, Russia, Sweden, the U.K., and several other countries.

The author of numerous books and reports, both popular and scientific, Raven co-wrote Biology of Plants, an internationally best-selling textbook, now in its sixth edition. He also co-authored Environment, a leading textbook on the environment.

Studies, Articles and Answers

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Does the use of transgenic plants diminish or promote biodiversity?

By Dr. Peter H. Raven - Aug 01, 2014

Originally published in New Biotechnology.The protection of biodiversity and of ecosystem services ought to be a top priority, taken into consideration in the course of all human activities, because we depend on it fully now and for the future. In this context, we note that the ecological problems related to the cultivation of GE crops fail to differ in any fundamental way from the ecological problems associated with agriculture in general, except that they usually involve the application of much lower quantities of chemicals and thus tend to leave the environments in and adjacent to where th [...]

Environment How GMOs Are Made Crop protectants


The Use of Transgenic Crops in Agriculture: Safety and Other Features

By Dr. Peter H. Raven - Aug 29, 2014

Originally posted in Missouri Botanical Garden Research in February 2013. Confusion has arisen in India about the use of transgenic plants to improve agricultural productivity and other traits, and I would like here to take the liberty of offering testimony on this matter. In the light of the consideration of the Bio-Safety Authority under consideration in Parliament and the possible establishment of a Biotechnology Authority of India, it seems worth setting out some scientific principles that pertain to this area. First I’ll list a series of points for consideration and then [...]

Health and Safety Regulation - US


Transgenic Plants and the Natural World: Curse or Blessing?

By Dr. Peter H. Raven - Nov 20, 2014

Transgenic, or genetically modified (GM), organisms are produced by the transfer of one or more genes from a particular species of organism to another unrelated one. The methods for transferring genes are barely 30 years old, and yet they have already had great success in producing and improving the characteristics of drugs, beer, cheese, and other widely-accepted products. For many crop plants, transgenic strains are taking over throughout the world because of their higher productivity. Despite these gains, somewhat unaccountably, and particularly in Europe, transgenic organisms and the pr [...]

GMOs Globally Modern Agriculture


Q: How to asses the certainty that human induced GMO crops will not have an effect in biodiversity ? Specially for cross pollinated crops like alfalfa and corn.

Answered By Dr. Peter H. Raven - Jul 10, 2015

A: Agriculture itself has a major effect on reducing biodiversity: the conversion of about a third of the world’s land surface to croplands and pasture over the last 10,000 years has clearly been associated with hundreds of thousands of extinction events.  Continuing habitat destruction, global warming, the spread of some 20,000 species of invasive weedy plants, and the selective gathering of specific plants in nature are continuing to drive many species to extinction.  In that context, the relationship of various methods of improving crop species genetically – about a doze [...]

GMOs & Farmers GMOs Globally Health & Safety