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Kent Bradford

Director, Seed Biotechnology Center, UC Davis

Expert Bio

Kent J. Bradford is a Distinguished Professor in the Department of Plant Sciences at the University of California, Davis. Originally from Texas, he earned his B.S. degree in Biochemistry and M.S. degree in Horticulture from Michigan State University and his Ph.D. degree in Plant Physiology from the University of California, Davis. After a postdoctoral fellowship at the Australian National University, he joined the faculty at UC Davis in 1982 and served as the Chair of the Department of Vegetable Crops from 1993 to 1998. In 1999 he founded the UC Davis Seed Biotechnology Center and continues to serve as its director. He received a Fulbright Scholar award in 1999 to teach in Argentina and the career Seed Science Award from the Crop Science Society of America in 2002. He was elected a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 2003, and received the faculty Award of Distinction from the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences at UC Davis in 2007. He was advanced to Distinguished Professor at UC Davis in 2013.

Dr. Bradford’s research has spanned diverse areas of seed science from seed germination and conservation to mathematical modeling and molecular biology. He has published over 160 peer-reviewed research and extension articles and book chapters, co-edited three books and co-authored a textbook on seed development, germination, dormancy and storage. His current interests are in the genetic, molecular and environmental mechanisms regulating seed germination, in seed deterioration and methods to extend seed longevity, and in mathematical models to describe seed germination and dormancy behavior. As Director of the Seed Biotechnology Center, he supports the creation and commercialization of new technologies to improve crop performance, quality and sustainability and the continuing education plant breeders and seed industry professionals. He teaches University and Extension courses on plant physiology, seed biology, biotechnology, ethics and philosophy of science.

Studies, Articles and Answers

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Question

Q: Please be 100% honest with me. I do not speak against Monsanto, I have a level of respect for companies and corporations, but... How safe are gmo foods? Are they really safe like the claims say? I really wanna know and with all due respect could you pleas

Answered By Kent Bradford - Apr 11, 2014

A: Yes, foods from plants that have been improved using genetic engineering are safe to eat. The World Health Organization states clearly that “GM foods currently available on the international market have passed risk assessments and are not likely to present risks for human health. In addition, no effects on human health have been shown as a result of the consumption of such foods by the general population in the countries where they have been approved” (http://www.who.int/foodsafety/publications/biotech/20questions/en/). Similarly, the Board of the American Association for the Advancement of S [...]

GMO Basics Health & Safety

Question

Q: why is GMO important for human society

Answered By Kent Bradford - May 28, 2014

A: Human society is supported by its ability to produce sufficient food for the total population while at the same time not using up or degrading the capacity to continue to produce that amount of food in the future. This requires us to “sustainably intensify” our agricultural methods to increase the yields on currently farmed land and minimize the expansion of agriculture onto additional wild lands and forests. Expanding agriculture increases production but has negative impacts on biodiversity, carbon release to the atmosphere, soil erosion and nutrient losses. Instead, obtaining more food value [...]

Answered By Cecilia Chi-Ham - Mar 27, 2014

A: Society has the responsibility of using science, rather than hype, to inform regulation, policy and scientific strategies to develop crops that can continue providing us with safe foods. In 2013, the World Food Prize was awarded to the pioneering scientists who developed modern agricultural biotechnology. Biotechnology crops have provided significant economic benefit to millions of consumers, reduced agriculturally related greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, reduced soil erosion and substantially decreased the use of many toxic agricultural chemicals. Unfortunately, this polarized debate is n [...]

Other

Question

Q: What was happening in the society that supported the rise of the turning point when scientists decided to create GMOs?

Answered By Kent Bradford - Aug 08, 2014

A: I don’t think any decision to apply GM methods was driven by what was happening in society, per se. It was driven by advances in science and technology that made it possible to do genetic engineering. There were obvious targets to try in agriculture (herbicide tolerance and insect resistance), and particularly companies who had interests in these areas focused on it and made it work. Public-sector research continued also, with some successes (virus-resistant papaya).   In those early days, it was not realized that there would be major regulatory supervision associated with GE, nor that [...]

Health & Safety Other

Question

Q: why and when hybrid breeding would be a better choice?

Answered By Kent Bradford - Jun 19, 2015

A: In general, hybrid varieties will be better for almost all situations. They have more uniform growth and higher yields due to hybrid vigor (or heterosis), which means they are also often more broadly adapted to diverse environments. In developed countries, hybrids are dominant in all crops where the seed can be produced economically. Since hybrid seeds must be produced by the controlled crossing of two inbred parents, the pollination mechanism of the species must be adaptable to this. In maize, for example, the male (tassels) and female (ears) flowers are distinct on the plant and it is easy t [...]

Other

Question

Q: Since pro and con GMO are all blaming scientists from the other side to be bought, why not creating a lab where a 50 50 funding would be applied for research? 50 bigbiotech 50 bigorganic. Or maybe 33 biotech, 33 organic, 33 government. Experimental protoc

Answered By Kent Bradford - Oct 23, 2015

A: This is an interesting question, and something like it has been done in the past. For example, California’s legislature created a program somewhat like this to promote such industry-university collaborations. “The UC Discovery Grant (UCDG) promotes collaborations between University of California researchers and industry partners in the interest of supporting cutting-edge research, strengthening the state’s economy, and serving the public good. UCDG research projects are jointly funded by a UC Discovery Grant and an industry sponsor matching contribution.” This program was active from 1996 [...]

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