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Kevin Folta

Professor and Chairman, Horticultural Sciences Department, University of Florida

Expert Bio

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.

 

Studies, Articles and Answers

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Showing 10 out of 59 results

Question

Q: How does engineering species to die after one generation, forcing farmers to repurchase seeds every year, affect the farming industry as a whole?

Answered By Kevin Folta - Aug 21, 2013

A: The topic of "suicide seeds" or "terminator technology" is a deeply engrained in the fabric of the anti-GMO movement.  Such ominous language is the basis of many websites that conjure fear spanning from farmer manipulation to the death of every plant on the planet.  Talk about a frankenfood! However, the reality is not nearly so scary.  In 1998 Delta and Pine Land, one of America's largest cotton seed company, received wide patent protection for a series of traits, one that was called "technology protection system".  Through a rather clev [...]

Business Practices GMOs & Farmers

Question

Q: most Tomato's in the US have lost there flavor..is GMO responsible?

Answered By Kevin Folta - Aug 21, 2013

A: First, there are no GMO tomatoes on the market. The famous “Flavr Savr” GM tomato of the 90’s was gone before Y2K. There, question answered! But let’s look at this a little deeper. Why do tomatoes taste, boring? New varieties of tomatoes are developed through traditional breeding. A breeder has to evaluate thousands of lines from a genetic cross to find one winner, so you can imagine the huge expense and resources used. That said, tomatoes in breeding programs are not selected by breeders based on sensory traits like aroma and flavor, at least they haven’t been. Breeders now ha [...]

GMO Basics How GMOs Are Made

Question

Q: Is there even one professional representing GMO.asks who isn't pro-GMO's?

Answered By Kevin Folta - Aug 21, 2013

A: I would not call myself "pro-GMO".  I'm pro-science.  Pro-evidence.  Like all scientists, I draw conclusions from the peer-reviewed literature, an understanding of plant molecular mechanisms, and a knowledge of biology.  At this point that leads me to the conclusion that GM is excellent technology that has strengths and limitations, just like anything else. The information presented here on GMO Answers is evidence-based, coming from well-constructed studies with reproducible results. You will find occasional contrasting data and conclusions oc [...]

Other

Question

Q: Why are independent scientists that find GMOs to be unsafe systematically threatened and discredited?

Answered By Kevin Folta - Nov 04, 2013

A: This is a great question, and as an independent scientist that understands and promotes biotech, I know what it is like to be threatened and discredited. Not that it has ever mattered in my field (that’s important later on). When we do science our work is sent out into public forums via journals. The work is always carefully analyzed, criticized, and discussed in the context of our fields. It can get nasty, but usually shapes the discussion forward. But what about “systematic” threats and discreditation? A systematic response is what we see in response to highly questionable finding [...]

GMO Basics How GMOs Are Made

Question

Q: I have read several articles and watched an alarming utube video that blame GMOs for many of the GI problems people are having. My husband has had issues for a few years and within the last year I have begun to have issues. How do you address these conc

Answered By Kevin Folta - Sep 03, 2013

A: Sorry to hear about your husband’s problem.  One of my best friends has GI issues as does her daughter and it is not pleasant.  They’ve been looking for answers too, so I did some research and thought I’d chime in here. I’ll provide some thoughts on why it is not due to anti-pest measures in GMO food, then a bit on increasing celiac disease and then address potential causes, their tie to GMO, and finally a rather interesting twist on the future of GMO and celiac disease.   The anti-pest protein (we'll call it Bt from now on) does not make "sto [...]

GMO Basics Health & Safety

Question

Q: GMO corn is nutritionally dead compared to organic cornhttp://naturalsociety.com/analysis-monsanto-gm-corn-nutritionally-dead-toxic/Why do you still sell them? If you're selling glyphosate filled corn can't you just label them so people know what they're

Answered By Kevin Folta - Aug 29, 2013

A: Thanks Soup! You could not have found a better person to answer your question. I was front-and-center when this news/chart hit the prime time in March of 2012. It was posted on Moms Against Monsanto where they portrayed it as you do—proof that GM corn is nutritionally vacant and full of glyphosate and formaldehyde.I’ll tell you up front that the “moms” site, Howard Vleiger (the guy that produced these data) and many other anti-GMO websites and promoters stand by these data as valid and representative of actual tests. They stand by them to this day. Keep that in mind.I looked at the data and i [...]

GMO Basics Health & Safety

Question

Q: I was reading this article and it states that free inquiry is limited because of patent protection on GMO seeds:http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=do-seed-companies-control-gm-crop-researchThe article suggests this limit is unscientific, and

Answered By Kevin Folta - Sep 11, 2013

A: Davis, I LOVES me some Scientific American.  It always has been a pretty reasonable resource at the interface between science and an interested public.  I read the article you cited, and it is raised all the time by critics of biotech.  It is the one place in a reputable source where you'll find the claim that researchers cannot do research on Big Biotech's seeds.  Note the use of "one”. Being a fan of SciAm, I can't fathom what must have been in the water cooler that day.  The work is authored by "The Editors" and they have been historically pretty good.  M [...]

Business Practices GMOs & Farmers

Question

Q: Dr. Michael Antoniou et.al wrote an open letter to Dr. Megan Clark, Chief Executive CSIRO opposing conduct of human trials to test the efficacy of genetically engineered wheat to have lower glycemic index, that included this claim “There is a large body

Answered By Kevin Folta - Sep 12, 2013

A: RickInRealLife, the best part about pleiotropic effects is that they are pleiotropic! If there was something inadvertent happening that was seriously affecting the physiology, development or metabolism of the plant – it would stick out like a sore, well, leaf.  The claims that there are some unintended glossed-over issues are great to generate an alarmist response, but don't hold much weight in reality.  The idea is predicated on the possibility that gene inserted (the "transgene") may land in a place where it has some role in eliminating a resident gene's function or perh [...]

GMO Basics Health & Safety

Question

Q: Please explain the difference between GMO and cross breeding, or cross pollination and how prevalent genetic modification is?

Answered By Kevin Folta - Jan 27, 2014

A: Kevin Folta, Interim Chair and Associate Professor in the Horticultural Sciences Department at University of Florida, has created a video response to your question. Please view the video here: A transcript of the video is included below: So what are the big differences between GMO technology, cross-breeding and simple cross-pollination? Let’s start with the last one. Cross-pollination is simply a process where two sexually compatible plants happen to cross by virtue of pollen, which is the male contribution to this process, being carried by wind or insects or possibly by water – wha [...]

GMO Basics How GMOs Are Made

Question

Q: I am interested in learning more about how biotech seeds improve sustainability. Can you provide examples?

Answered By Kevin Folta - Oct 13, 2013

A: Herbicide-tolerant crops have encouraged farmers to practice no-till farming. In conventional farming, the fields are plowed ("tilled") to control weeds.  Because of the superior weed control from GM crops, farmers now have to till much less often. This has led to improved soil health and water retention, reduced runoff, and reduced greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture. (National Academy of Sciences, Impact of Genetically Engineered Crops on Farm Sustainability in the United States, 2010) http://www.nap.edu/catalog.php?record_id=12804 Insect-resistant crops have greatly reduced [...]

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