Posted on November 22, 2016
Response from Kevin Folta, Professor and Chairman, Horticultural Sciences Department, University of Florida • December 27, 2016
This question is an important one but requires a nuanced answer. If we are talking about commercial crops, there are only two examples currently grown—some squash and Hawaiian papaya. These plants have been engineered to be resistant to viruses that cause diseases that greatly affect production.
The papaya is probably the best example. Papaya ringspot virus was devastating the crop in Hawaii. The virus is spread by insects, so controlling the virus meant insecticides and then... Read More
Posted on May 11, 2016
Response from Kevin Folta, Professor and Chairman, Horticultural Sciences Department, University of Florida • May 11, 2016
I think this question is asking about how a gene that is inserted is different from the resident genes within the organism. It is an important question, but the answer is complex, so I’ll provide a starting point. I’m glad to go deeper for you if you’d like, so contact me directly or I can continue answering here on GMOAnswers.com.
First, a quick lesson in how genes work. When we think of a “gene,” this is the information that leads to a trait,... Read More
Posted on February 19, 2016
Response from Kevin Folta, Professor and Chairman, Horticultural Sciences Department, University of Florida • March 18, 2016
We are learning a lot about the genes associated with sensory quality, and genetic engineering is likely a great way to rapidly re-introduce them to fruits and vegetables. Where did they go? Over the past 50 years plant breeding prioritized production traits, meaning fruit size, yield, disease resistance and shipping quality. Flavors and aromas were simply graded as acceptable or not.
Today we can use marker assisted breeding to bring back those flavors without... Read More
Posted on September 10, 2015
Response from Kevin Folta, Professor and Chairman, Horticultural Sciences Department, University of Florida • March 28, 2016
The easy answer is that I never put a penny in my pocket from “big ag” and they never sponsored my research or students. I was reimbursed for travel once when they asked me to talk to some farmers that had questions. All of that is clearly disclosed, and shows that I do a lot of work with no personal remuneration. That’s my job as a Land Grant scientist.
One time they provided funds for my university to support my outreach program. My program teaches... Read More
Posted on June 11, 2015
Response from Kevin Folta, Professor and Chairman, Horticultural Sciences Department, University of Florida • July 10, 2015
My advice is not based on my years of experience as a scientist—it comes from Grandpa Folta. My grandfather had the ultimate stockpile of banned and discontinued compounds, sequestered in a basement cabinet and locked with both a padlock and a cable lock. It was enough to kill every insect and fish in Cook County, Illinois, and soften every eagle egg for generations. He had chlordane, lindane, heptachlor and a dozen compounds loaded with arsenic. I only remember... Read More