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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 9 out of 59 results

Question

Q: Are GMO critics wrong?

Answered By Kevin Folta - Oct 09, 2015

A: This is like asking “Are pharmaceutical critics wrong?”   It is an open-ended question and an important one. It frames the problem. People are thinking of a huge range of technologies and products as one thing, which it is not.    The insulin used by diabetics is produced by a recombinant DNA, a “GMO” if we have to use that term. The critics are wrong. Some have said that this lifesaving medicine should not be used, yet it has been essential for treating a growing population of diabetics that require such assistance. In this case, the [...]

Environment Health & Safety

Question

Q: Is there any risks or drawbacks

Answered By Kevin Folta - Apr 10, 2015

A: While this sounds like a cop-out answer, it is absolutely true — everything has risk. In traditional plant breeding, we mix genes just by fertilizing plants with other plants' pollen. We have no idea which genes are moving or what might be happening at the cellular level. There are several cases in history where something dangerous has come from basic plant sex, like the Lenappe potato and high-psoralen celery. Genomes are complicated, and there always is a tiny, tiny risk of unintended consequence.   Transgenic, or GMO, technology also has similar risk, only the likelih [...]


Question

Q: What foods are considered unnecessary for any form of GMO? If youve ever grown mint, you know theres no need to worry, the stuff grows like weeds!

Answered By Kevin Folta - Apr 10, 2015

A: Interesting question. I'll give you two interpretations.    Some crops do just fine from genetic improvements obtained through traditional breeding. Those don't need any GMO assistance. The GMO process just adds a gene or two that add a missing (and important) trait. If you have a good foundation, you don't need the extra support. That's important because the testing and deregulation process is long and expensive.    Therefore, most plants are not amenable to GMO technology, purely for economic reasons. The rigorous regulation, the high cost of R&D [...]


Question

Q: I am a blackberry grower in Oregon and want to know if you could develope a gmo berry for us? One that is resistant to mold, very nutritious, frost resistant, excellent flavor and very productive? If your interested please respond with any info ? I am

Answered By Kevin Folta - May 08, 2015

A: Hi Ken, your request was sent to me. I’m the chair of horticultural sciences at the University of Florida.  I’m good friends with your blackberry breeder out there.   I’m really interested in how we can apply biotech to small fruit crops.  Blackberries are wonderful, but fragile, and we can’t grow them well outside of certain areas.  Their postharvest performance can be improved, and nutrition is pretty good.  They take years to breed and have complicated genomes.  Seems like a job for biotech!   However, when I read your request [...]

GMOs Globally Modern Agriculture

Question

Q: I bought Roundup Pro Concentrate 1.67 gallon 48.7 Glyphosate Id like to try an experiment and store in my fridge along with everyday food produce meats etc I regularly eat. Any suggestions?

Answered By Kevin Folta - Jul 10, 2015

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 these by name because they were forbidden compounds, at the time, lost in a zone between application a [...]

Answered By Kevin Folta - Jul 10, 2015

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 these by name because they were forbidden compounds, at the time, lost in a zone between application a [...]

Health & Safety Other

Question

Q: I bought Roundup Pro Concentrate 1.67 gallon 48.7 Glyphosate Id like to try an experiment and store in my fridge along with everyday food produce meats etc I regularly eat. Any suggestions?

Answered By Kevin Folta - Jul 10, 2015

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 these by name because they were forbidden compounds, at the time, lost in a zone between application a [...]

Answered By Kevin Folta - Jul 10, 2015

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 these by name because they were forbidden compounds, at the time, lost in a zone between application a [...]

Health & Safety Other

Question

Q: food and chemical corporations work with public university scientists behind closed doors to manipulate the public. My question is how much has Dr Kevin Folta of the University of Florida been paid over the years by Big Ag to lie to the public about pesti

Answered By Kevin Folta - Mar 28, 2016

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 scientists, students, postdocs and others how to speak effectively with a concerned public. I was gr [...]


Question

Q: It seems that all advances have been in improving qualities like storage and disease resistance, but is there any work being done to improve the taste?

Answered By Kevin Folta - Mar 18, 2016

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 genetic engineering.  That's being done all over the world.   The process is slow, esp [...]


Question

Q: Why is the spliced genes action on the dna stranded differnt from other genes that are normally there

Answered By Kevin Folta - May 11, 2016

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 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, PLUS the information that regulates it. All genes are composed of the same basic building blocks [...]

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