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: Tuesday, 11/22/2016 6:36 pm
A: 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... Continue Reading
Posted On: Thursday, 4/21/2016 4:05 pm
A: 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   First, a quick lesson in how genes work. When we think of a “gene,” this is the information that leads to a trait,... Continue Reading
Posted On: Friday, 2/19/2016 11:46 am
A: 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... Continue Reading
Posted On: Wednesday, 9/09/2015 5:21 pm
A: 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... Continue Reading
Posted On: Thursday, 6/11/2015 3:29 pm
A: 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... Continue Reading


ARTICLE: Rehashing a Tired Argument

By Kevin Folta (Independent Expert) on Monday, October 31, 2016 - 10:14

The New York Times failed again, publishing a less-than-scientific ball of bias that states genetically engineered crops fail to produce as expected. It is a great way to get clicks. But reporter Danny Hakim's analysis contrasts with that of the folks that really understand the benefits and limitations of the technologies-- farmers that use it. Kevin Folta explains.
  • Impact on Environment
  • Impact on Farms
  • Science and GMO Basics

Genetically Engineered Crops in 2014: What Are They and How Do They Work?

By Kevin Folta (Independent Expert) on Thursday, December 4, 2014 - 17:24

In this video presentation, Kevin Folta outlines the basics, history and use of genetically modified crops.
  • Future of GMO
  • Science and GMO Basics

Failing to Feed a Hungry World

By Kevin Folta (Independent Expert) on Wednesday, October 1, 2014 - 19:43

While transgenic (GMO) technologies show tremendous promise in assisting the world's most challenging problems, the best technologies are frozen. A negative public perception and a lengthy and expensive deregulatory process halt good technologies from reaching those that they might serve.
  • Impact on Society

GMO Technology is Simply Precision Breeding

By Kevin Folta (Independent Expert) on Thursday, September 18, 2014 - 23:14

Moving genes from one organism to another has been the backbone of plant breeding. Elite varieties, useful to humans, have come from millennia of careful crossing of plants followed by selection. New technology simply accelerates that process to make rapid gains for food, fiber and fuel.
  • Science and GMO Basics