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Peter J. Davies

Professor of Plant Physiology and International Professor of Plant Biology, Cornell University, Ithaca New York, USA

Expert Bio

Peter J. Davies holds a B.Sc. and Ph.D. from the University of Reading in England, and an M.S. from the University of California at Davis. His expertise is in the field of plant development, especially plant hormones and crop biotechnology.

At Cornell he teaches plant function and growth, a course educating non-biology students in the societal implications of advances in biology, and a course on GM crops, their regulation and societal implications. He also holds the position of a Jefferson Science Fellow at the United States Department of State serving as a science advisor in the area of agricultural biotechnology.

Studies, Articles and Answers

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Showing 10 out of 11 results

Question

Q: I know there haven't been definitive studies that conclude that GMOs can do harm to one's body, but have there been studies done that show GMOs do NOT harm our health?

Answered By Peter J. Davies - Jul 18, 2013

A: This is a good, thoughtful question. However, it is impossible for science to absolutely prove a negative. I can’t prove that you won’t be attacked by an emperor penguin next year; I can report only that, from our knowledge of penguins, almost certainly this will not occur, but no matter how much research is done, I can’t prove it. The same applies to GM foods. The science says that there should be no harm, and reliable studies to date have not shown any harm, but we cannot prove that there will never be any harm. All we can say is that all the evidence points toward GM crops being no differe [...]

GMO Basics Health & Safety

Question

Q: This question is for Peter Davies Regarding the statement that you made which follows "After sixteen years of consumption by billions of livestock, pets and humans, there has been no cases of allergy, cancer or death, or indication that the GMOs are of an

Answered By Peter J. Davies - Aug 28, 2013

A: How do you know? Exactly as reported: GM foods have been eaten over 16 years by billions of humans and livestock with no problems.  No long-term individual study can equal this experience.  Long-term animal studies have indeed been done [click here for a review and list of over 600 studies]. Such studies are very difficult to do with regard to controlling for all variability—e.g., rats can get sick from too many tomatoes. Long-term studies are also very expensive.  As we know the genes involved, and there is no cause to think that either the DNA or  the protein is any diff [...]

GMO Basics Health & Safety

Question

Q: Is the debate about health and safety and GMP truly unbiased?

Answered By Peter J. Davies - Mar 04, 2015

A: Initially this question seems rather vague, but actually it is an excellent question from a person who is clearly thinking very carefully.  Essentially this is asking: How do we know who or what to believe, seeing that GMO advocates and opponents make very contrasting claims and each point to their own favorite pieces of evidence. There is no straight answer, and so I need to step through various levels or reasoning and evidence.  So let’s begin:   Anecdotes   Everyone can tell stories, and often these can be scary.  However anecdotes are notoriously unrelia [...]

Other

Question

Q: You say that GMOs and food that based on GMOs is completely harmless for our health and that it is proven by many studies. Okay. Can you tell me a list of the latest 10 studies which can manifest that and where I can find them? Who was the the sponsor of

By GMOAnswers Admin_1 - May 01, 2014

A: You can find a list of hundreds of studies available online through the independent GENERA database atwww.biofortified.org/genera/guide/. To answer your specific question, though, I’ve pulled fifteen publications from 2012 to 2013 related to food safety that contain, as best as I can identify, studies that were conducted by independent, third-party researchers. Panda et al. did have samples provided by the biotech industry. The list is below, including a link for each paper. (Please note: the full text of some of these studies may require a subscription to the publication.) Also, if provided, [...]

Answered By Peter J. Davies - Apr 11, 2014

A: Refereed literature compendia can be found at the following sources. A list of 610 scientific articles on safety assessments of foods and feeds derived from genetically modified crops (updated to June 2013) can be found at:http://chilebio.cl/documentos/Publicaciones.pdf. A list of 1,080 studies can be found at:http://www.biofortified.org/genera/studies-for-genera/. In Europe, a 2010 European Commission Directorate-General for Research assessed available regulatory science for environmental and food-safety risks in “A Decade of EU-funded GMO Research (2001–2010)”: “The main conc [...]

GMO Basics Health & Safety

Question

Q: http://gizmodo.com/the-original-genetically-modified-tomato-youll-never-e-559924439 "But where Calgene explicitly labeled their altered tomatoes, Monsanto took over huge markets of staple crops without marking any of their products as genetically modified

Answered By Peter J. Davies - Dec 03, 2013

A: Flavr-Savr tomatoes were developed to have a delayed over-ripening property so that they remained fresh in the retail trade for a longer period of time.  They have not been available since the 1990’s.  A blackening of the insides of tomato fruit is most likely blossom-end-rot occasioned by a deficiency of calcium during fruit development. When available, Flavr-Savr tomatoes were voluntarily labeled to inform consumers of the unique product benefits. [...]

Other

Question

Q: What is the application rate equivalence for a field of BT corn vs a field of Organic corn spraying BT as an insecticide?

Answered By Peter J. Davies - Aug 01, 2014

A: What a great question! It even caused me to put down my breakfast of coffee and mixed GMO and non-GMO grain cereal. Note in passing that, worldwide, coffee is being devastated by coffee rust disease: resistance has been discovered, but one way to protect our crops from disease in the future will be biotechnology. An example of this is GMO blight-resistant chestnut, where a gene from wheat destroys the plant-damaging toxic chemical produced by the fungus, so rendering the tree disease-resistant. But I digress. This is difficult to calculate perfectly, but we can do some back-of-the-napkin [...]

Answered By Peter J. Davies - Aug 01, 2014

A: What a great question! It even caused me to put down my breakfast of coffee and mixed GMO and non-GMO grain cereal. Note in passing that, worldwide, coffee is being devastated by coffee rust disease: resistance has been discovered, but one way to protect our crops from disease in the future will be biotechnology. An example of this is GMO blight-resistant chestnut, where a gene from wheat destroys the plant-damaging toxic chemical produced by the fungus, so rendering the tree disease-resistant. But I digress. This is difficult to calculate perfectly, but we can do some back-of-the-napkin [...]

Labeling

Question

Q: What is the application rate equivalence for a field of BT corn vs a field of Organic corn spraying BT as an insecticide?

Answered By Peter J. Davies - Aug 01, 2014

A: What a great question! It even caused me to put down my breakfast of coffee and mixed GMO and non-GMO grain cereal. Note in passing that, worldwide, coffee is being devastated by coffee rust disease: resistance has been discovered, but one way to protect our crops from disease in the future will be biotechnology. An example of this is GMO blight-resistant chestnut, where a gene from wheat destroys the plant-damaging toxic chemical produced by the fungus, so rendering the tree disease-resistant. But I digress. This is difficult to calculate perfectly, but we can do some back-of-the-napkin [...]

Answered By Peter J. Davies - Aug 01, 2014

A: What a great question! It even caused me to put down my breakfast of coffee and mixed GMO and non-GMO grain cereal. Note in passing that, worldwide, coffee is being devastated by coffee rust disease: resistance has been discovered, but one way to protect our crops from disease in the future will be biotechnology. An example of this is GMO blight-resistant chestnut, where a gene from wheat destroys the plant-damaging toxic chemical produced by the fungus, so rendering the tree disease-resistant. But I digress. This is difficult to calculate perfectly, but we can do some back-of-the-napkin [...]

Labeling

Question

Q: As in cases like the Hawaiian papaya, when GMOs are cross pollinating with non GMO plants they are producing offspring that has the GMO genetics within. How do you think that heritage crops and organic crops will be able to coexist with GMOs in the future

Answered By Peter J. Davies - Jul 31, 2015

A: To address this multifaceted question we need to start with a consideration of types of pollination:            Open pollination is when a flower is pollinated by any other flower of the same species.  If there are separate male and female flowers all pollination is, by definition, open.  At the extreme, plants may be self-incompatible, such that if pollen is from another genetically-identical plant the pollen does not germinate, and only pollen of a different genetic constitution can fertilize the egg cell to produce the seed.   [...]

Answered By Peter J. Davies - Jul 31, 2015

A: To address this multifaceted question we need to start with a consideration of types of pollination:            Open pollination is when a flower is pollinated by any other flower of the same species.  If there are separate male and female flowers all pollination is, by definition, open.  At the extreme, plants may be self-incompatible, such that if pollen is from another genetically-identical plant the pollen does not germinate, and only pollen of a different genetic constitution can fertilize the egg cell to produce the seed.   [...]


Question

Q: As in cases like the Hawaiian papaya, when GMOs are cross pollinating with non GMO plants they are producing offspring that has the GMO genetics within. How do you think that heritage crops and organic crops will be able to coexist with GMOs in the future

Answered By Peter J. Davies - Jul 31, 2015

A: To address this multifaceted question we need to start with a consideration of types of pollination:            Open pollination is when a flower is pollinated by any other flower of the same species.  If there are separate male and female flowers all pollination is, by definition, open.  At the extreme, plants may be self-incompatible, such that if pollen is from another genetically-identical plant the pollen does not germinate, and only pollen of a different genetic constitution can fertilize the egg cell to produce the seed.   [...]

Answered By Peter J. Davies - Jul 31, 2015

A: To address this multifaceted question we need to start with a consideration of types of pollination:            Open pollination is when a flower is pollinated by any other flower of the same species.  If there are separate male and female flowers all pollination is, by definition, open.  At the extreme, plants may be self-incompatible, such that if pollen is from another genetically-identical plant the pollen does not germinate, and only pollen of a different genetic constitution can fertilize the egg cell to produce the seed.   [...]


Question

Q: Does GMO make the plant produce different chemicals? If so, then if you wanted the plant to grow bigger, what chemical would it produce?

Answered By Peter J. Davies - Aug 17, 2018

A: A GMO plant can be made to produce different chemicals. At the initial level the products of added genes are proteins, but proteins can also function as enzymes i.e., they cause chemical reactions and these chemicals can affect growth. A bigger plant could be one that produces more tissue in a given time, or it could be one that is taller; these are different situations. More mass: For a plant to grow bigger it has to make better use of the available resources, such as light and CO2 for photosynthesis, water, or minerals. There are currently no such crops in production, but research has b [...]

GMO Basics