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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 are GMO effecting small children, andor adults in America?

Answered By Kevin Folta - Jun 27, 2014

A: I'm glad to answer your question as a scientist, but also as someone who is raising his niece. I'd never give her something dangerous, and in our house we absolutely do not worry about GM foods.  Your question implies a negative effect of the technology, much like that derived from anti-GM websites. The scientific answer is that there are absolutely no cases of any harm from this technology in 17 years of use. That's in small children and adults — no problems.  If you search the web, you'll find many opinions that disagree with that statement. However, these are opinions. Websites f [...]

Answered By Kevin Folta - Jun 27, 2014

A: I'm glad to answer your question as a scientist, but also as someone who is raising his niece. I'd never give her something dangerous, and in our house we absolutely do not worry about GM foods.  Your question implies a negative effect of the technology, much like that derived from anti-GM websites. The scientific answer is that there are absolutely no cases of any harm from this technology in 17 years of use. That's in small children and adults — no problems.  If you search the web, you'll find many opinions that disagree with that statement. However, these are opinions. Websites f [...]


Question

Q: What are the experts responses to the youtube video, GMOs Explained Dr. Thierry Vrain The Gene Revolution

Answered By Kevin Folta - Oct 10, 2014

A: I’m glad to answer your question, but it required spending an hour watching the video. I’ve never paid much attention to Vrain. What I have read is tired and uninspired repetition of the same old, same old. The word is that he was a scientist who understood the technology fundamentally but went off the rails due to some political motivations and a lack of a contemporary understanding of the technology. To give an honest evaluation of your question, I’ll have to provide running commentary, followed by a synopsis … Here goes! 05:00: Vrain talks about Roundup (glyphosate) accurately, especi [...]


Question

Q: What role do academic scientists, i.e. researchers at universities and government labs, play in the development of new GMOs? Surely it is not only scientists working for biotech companies who are interested in developing crops that are more nutrienteffici

Answered By Kevin Folta - Aug 04, 2014

A: Academic researchers are an odd lot. They (we) could make a few more bucks in industry, would not have to write grants (which are rejected 90 percent of the time if we’re really good) and would not have “publish or perish” hanging over our heads. We do it because having a public science presence, and working for the citizens of our states and country, is a truly important mission.We work for you. And guess what? We can’t play in transgenic plant (GMO) space. The amount of regulation, the extremely expensive testing, the many years of validation — we just don't have the budgets to do it.   [...]

Answered By Kevin Folta - Aug 04, 2014

A: Academic researchers are an odd lot. They (we) could make a few more bucks in industry, would not have to write grants (which are rejected 90 percent of the time if we’re really good) and would not have “publish or perish” hanging over our heads. We do it because having a public science presence, and working for the citizens of our states and country, is a truly important mission.We work for you. And guess what? We can’t play in transgenic plant (GMO) space. The amount of regulation, the extremely expensive testing, the many years of validation — we just don't have the budgets to do it.   [...]

GMO Basics How GMOs Are Made

Question

Q: What role do academic scientists, i.e. researchers at universities and government labs, play in the development of new GMOs? Surely it is not only scientists working for biotech companies who are interested in developing crops that are more nutrienteffici

Answered By Kevin Folta - Aug 04, 2014

A: Academic researchers are an odd lot. They (we) could make a few more bucks in industry, would not have to write grants (which are rejected 90 percent of the time if we’re really good) and would not have “publish or perish” hanging over our heads. We do it because having a public science presence, and working for the citizens of our states and country, is a truly important mission.We work for you. And guess what? We can’t play in transgenic plant (GMO) space. The amount of regulation, the extremely expensive testing, the many years of validation — we just don't have the budgets to do it.   [...]

Answered By Kevin Folta - Aug 04, 2014

A: Academic researchers are an odd lot. They (we) could make a few more bucks in industry, would not have to write grants (which are rejected 90 percent of the time if we’re really good) and would not have “publish or perish” hanging over our heads. We do it because having a public science presence, and working for the citizens of our states and country, is a truly important mission.We work for you. And guess what? We can’t play in transgenic plant (GMO) space. The amount of regulation, the extremely expensive testing, the many years of validation — we just don't have the budgets to do it.   [...]

GMO Basics How GMOs Are Made

Question

Q: Has cancer increased since the introduction of GMOs?

Answered By Dan Goldstein - Oct 09, 2014

A: Broadly, the answer is no.  U.S. cancer data are readily available to the public for years 1975 through 2012 (as of this writing) in the SEER (Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results) database operated by the National Cancer Institute (NCI). Cancer Statistics summaries are also available for those who do not wish to probe the data directly, and to answer this question in more detail, I will refer to the SEER Cancer Statistics Review, 1975–2011 and Cancer Stat Fact Sheets.   These statistics compile cancer across many different sites—cancer is not a single-disease [...]

Answered By Kevin Folta - Sep 24, 2014

A: I do appreciate your concern, as anytime we introduce new technology, we need to consider how it might affect our most complex diseases. However, the basic science says there's no plausible way these well-understood genes could cause or promote cancer. Safety studies show no link to such diseases, and statistics from human and (other) animal populations reflect these findings. According to National Institutes of Health statistics, there were 400 new diagnoses per 100,000 people in 1975, and 461 in 2008. However, the NIH suggests that the increase is due mostly to earlier detection, as well as [...]

Answered By Dan Goldstein - Oct 09, 2014

A: Broadly, the answer is no.  U.S. cancer data are readily available to the public for years 1975 through 2012 (as of this writing) in the SEER (Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results) database operated by the National Cancer Institute (NCI). Cancer Statistics summaries are also available for those who do not wish to probe the data directly, and to answer this question in more detail, I will refer to the SEER Cancer Statistics Review, 1975–2011 and Cancer Stat Fact Sheets.   These statistics compile cancer across many different sites—cancer is not a single-disease [...]

Answered By Kevin Folta - Sep 24, 2014

A: I do appreciate your concern, as anytime we introduce new technology, we need to consider how it might affect our most complex diseases. However, the basic science says there's no plausible way these well-understood genes could cause or promote cancer. Safety studies show no link to such diseases, and statistics from human and (other) animal populations reflect these findings. According to National Institutes of Health statistics, there were 400 new diagnoses per 100,000 people in 1975, and 461 in 2008. However, the NIH suggests that the increase is due mostly to earlier detection, as well as [...]

GMO Basics How GMOs Are Made

Question

Q: Has cancer increased since the introduction of GMOs?

Answered By Dan Goldstein - Oct 09, 2014

A: Broadly, the answer is no.  U.S. cancer data are readily available to the public for years 1975 through 2012 (as of this writing) in the SEER (Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results) database operated by the National Cancer Institute (NCI). Cancer Statistics summaries are also available for those who do not wish to probe the data directly, and to answer this question in more detail, I will refer to the SEER Cancer Statistics Review, 1975–2011 and Cancer Stat Fact Sheets.   These statistics compile cancer across many different sites—cancer is not a single-disease [...]

Answered By Kevin Folta - Sep 24, 2014

A: I do appreciate your concern, as anytime we introduce new technology, we need to consider how it might affect our most complex diseases. However, the basic science says there's no plausible way these well-understood genes could cause or promote cancer. Safety studies show no link to such diseases, and statistics from human and (other) animal populations reflect these findings. According to National Institutes of Health statistics, there were 400 new diagnoses per 100,000 people in 1975, and 461 in 2008. However, the NIH suggests that the increase is due mostly to earlier detection, as well as [...]

Answered By Dan Goldstein - Oct 09, 2014

A: Broadly, the answer is no.  U.S. cancer data are readily available to the public for years 1975 through 2012 (as of this writing) in the SEER (Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results) database operated by the National Cancer Institute (NCI). Cancer Statistics summaries are also available for those who do not wish to probe the data directly, and to answer this question in more detail, I will refer to the SEER Cancer Statistics Review, 1975–2011 and Cancer Stat Fact Sheets.   These statistics compile cancer across many different sites—cancer is not a single-disease [...]

Answered By Kevin Folta - Sep 24, 2014

A: I do appreciate your concern, as anytime we introduce new technology, we need to consider how it might affect our most complex diseases. However, the basic science says there's no plausible way these well-understood genes could cause or promote cancer. Safety studies show no link to such diseases, and statistics from human and (other) animal populations reflect these findings. According to National Institutes of Health statistics, there were 400 new diagnoses per 100,000 people in 1975, and 461 in 2008. However, the NIH suggests that the increase is due mostly to earlier detection, as well as [...]

GMO Basics How GMOs Are Made

Question

Q: Effect of GM crop root exudates on soil micro flora?

Answered By Kevin Folta - Nov 06, 2014

A: There is only one report in a lower-impact journal regarding this topic. Dinel et al. (2003) use a sensitive method to analyze plant material and soil associated with one line of Bt and one line of non-Bt corn. The authors claim to find significant differences in various molecules — quite a few, actually. They also suggest negative effects on soil bacteria associated with the Bt corn. My main concern is that the data from this limited study are done with improper controls and then are overinterpreted. The authors use one Bt line and one non-Bt line. The problem is that the two foundation [...]

Environment Crop protectants

Question

Q: You have said the sites Independent Experts are volunteers. No doubt thats true, but that doesnt make them independent. If you value transparency, you would provide a list of biotech industry grants and research sponsorships to them individually and to th

Answered By Kevin Folta - Jul 06, 2015

A: Scientific independence is a simple topic.  As a public scientist, I can tell you that proper experiments and sound interpretations are the cornerstones of our existence, and that our reputations are the most valued and cherished asset we have.  That’s why independence is so important.   It is our independence that makes us a valuable resource for public inquiries.  At the same time, it is our independence that makes us attractive partners for industry.  We’re not them.  We’re separate, and if they are wrong we tell them they are wrong.  [...]

Answered By Kevin Folta - Jul 06, 2015

A: Scientific independence is a simple topic.  As a public scientist, I can tell you that proper experiments and sound interpretations are the cornerstones of our existence, and that our reputations are the most valued and cherished asset we have.  That’s why independence is so important.   It is our independence that makes us a valuable resource for public inquiries.  At the same time, it is our independence that makes us attractive partners for industry.  We’re not them.  We’re separate, and if they are wrong we tell them they are wrong.  [...]

Other

Question

Q: You have said the sites Independent Experts are volunteers. No doubt thats true, but that doesnt make them independent. If you value transparency, you would provide a list of biotech industry grants and research sponsorships to them individually and to th

Answered By Kevin Folta - Jul 06, 2015

A: Scientific independence is a simple topic.  As a public scientist, I can tell you that proper experiments and sound interpretations are the cornerstones of our existence, and that our reputations are the most valued and cherished asset we have.  That’s why independence is so important.   It is our independence that makes us a valuable resource for public inquiries.  At the same time, it is our independence that makes us attractive partners for industry.  We’re not them.  We’re separate, and if they are wrong we tell them they are wrong.  [...]

Answered By Kevin Folta - Jul 06, 2015

A: Scientific independence is a simple topic.  As a public scientist, I can tell you that proper experiments and sound interpretations are the cornerstones of our existence, and that our reputations are the most valued and cherished asset we have.  That’s why independence is so important.   It is our independence that makes us a valuable resource for public inquiries.  At the same time, it is our independence that makes us attractive partners for industry.  We’re not them.  We’re separate, and if they are wrong we tell them they are wrong.  [...]

Other

Question

Q: What are some credible sources about GMO?

Answered By Kevin Folta - Nov 06, 2014

A: There are two general ways to think about this.  First, the peer-reviewed literature is best, and the gold standard is reproducible studies that align to form a scientific consensus. These works can be found in the GENERA database at www.biofortified.org. Alternatively, quality papers can be found on Google Scholar. PubMed raises the bar by listing only papers that come from journals that meet certain quality criteria. Personally, I start with PubMed.  That's not to say that that everything must align with a consensus to be considered. Papers that break the rules are impor [...]

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