Independent Expert

Peter J. Davies

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

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.

From this Expert

Posted On: Monday, 11/14/2016 3:40 pm
A: In general GMOs do not further the science of genetics per se; rather they build on and exemplify already-developed genetic knowledge.   For example, they clearly demonstrate that the codes embedded in DNA are not species-specific: a gene that produces a certain protein in any organism (e.g., a bacterium) produces the same protein in a plant. It also demonstrates that any gene has, and needs, a turn-on switch (termed a promoter) as part of the DNA that is “read” before the... Continue Reading
Posted On: Saturday, 9/17/2016 5:26 am
A: While anything is possible (Bill Gates of Microsoft left Harvard with no degree!) it would be very difficult to do so. Formal training as a plant genetic engineer would start after learning the basics of chemistry, molecular biology and genetics, and plant physiology; even by the bachelor’s degree the only available positions would be that of a technical assistant. However, following appointment to such a position further learning could take place on the job. In order to be a team leader... Continue Reading
Posted On: Sunday, 8/14/2016 6:22 am
A: The first thing to realize is that any term such as GMO is simply a human invention, so that one person can convey ideas to another person; nature does not care what term is used!   So what do we mean by “Genetically Modified Organism”? To most, this refers to any organism, mainly crop plants in this context, which have been modified by human activity. This may be by plant breeding and selection, or by genetic engineering[1][2].   To most, “GMO” does not... Continue Reading
Posted On: Thursday, 1/22/2015 8:43 am
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... Continue Reading
Posted On: Tuesday, 7/08/2014 3:36 pm
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... Continue Reading


Is the debate about health and safety and GMO truly unbiased?

By Peter J. Davies (Independent Expert) on Wednesday, March 4, 2015 - 12:19

There are three sides to every story: yours, mine and the truth. Here's how to scientifically pick your stance when it comes to GMOs.
  • Science and GMO Basics

In Support of GMO Crops

By Peter J. Davies (Independent Expert) on Wednesday, March 12, 2014 - 00:03

In this article, Dr. Peter J. Davies, Professor of Plant Biology at Cornell University and Hawaii resident, writes in support of GM crops. Dr. Davies discusses the benefits of GMOs, addressing concerns about safety, pesticides, sustainability and feeding an ever-increasing world population.
  • Impact on Environment
  • Safety, Health, and Nutrition
  • Science and GMO Basics