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Rod Herman

Science Advisor, Biotechnology Regulatory Sciences Group, Regulatory Science and Government Affairs Department, Dow AgroSciences

Expert Bio

Rod has been a scientist at Dow AgroSciences for 24 years. He currently acts as a Science Advisor for the Biotechnology Regulatory Sciences Group within the Regulatory Science and Government Affairs Department. Rod obtained a M.S. at Rutgers University and has served for more than 16 years in discovery research, including six years prior to joining Dow AgroSciences in 1989. Since 1999, he has been involved in the safety assessment and regulation of GM crops and has published more than 50 peer-reviewed papers over his career. In his spare time, he helps his wife with a market vegetable farm and restoration of wildlife habitat on the farm. Rod received the Dow AgroSciences Fellows’ Excellence in Science Award in 2012 in recognition of his outreach regarding the safety assessment of GM crops.

Studies, Articles and Answers

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Q: As a sugarcane farmer wish to know whether GM Technology can provide us with Red Rot Resistant Sugarcane varieties?

Answered By Rod Herman - Aug 23, 2013

A: If a researcher could identify a gene that prevents red rot, it would be possible and potentially a better solution than conventional breeding techniques in sugarcane.  At the present time, some of the major companies are in early development on sugarcane for herbicide tolerance and higher yield.  We haven't heard about any disease resistance yet.  For a look at what's in the pipeline, please see the CropLife International website at and search for "pipeline." [...]

GMOs & Farmers GMOs Globally Crop protectants


Q: Is there any indicator in the bar code number sequence to indicate that GMOs are present in a food? I am worried about my families (and environment) health and safety and am starting to read scientific claims that are showing that GMOs are not safe in th

Answered By Rod Herman - Aug 23, 2013

A: Currently, a voluntary system is available for retailers to designate GM and organic produce. This system is similar to the voluntary kosher label to assist consumers in making religious rather than health-related choices.  Health related labels are mandatory and required by the U.S. FDA.  SKU Produce Look-Ups or PLUs that start with the number 8 designate GM produce, and PLUs that start with the number 9 indicate that the produce is organic. For example, the PLU code for a standard yellow banana is 4011 while an organically grown standard yellow banana would be 94011.This system wa [...]

Environment GMOs Globally How GMOs Are Made


Q: Why not breed desired qualities into plants as we have for 10s of thousands of years?

Answered By Rod Herman - Sep 04, 2013

A: Agriculture is commonly considered to have begun about 10,000 years ago, and crops have been continuously improved ever since. New crop varieties have been developed to improve such properties as nutritional quality, yield and harvestability, as well as to remove mammalian toxins. By identifying favorable traits in individual crop plants or their wild relatives, breeders can cross such individuals with commercial lines to create new, improved lines. Mutations―arising, for example, through chemical treatment or radiation―are also used to introduce new genetic variation that breeders can u [...]

GMOs & Farmers Health & Safety Crop protectants


Q: How can companies producing GMO plants confirm that their plants will not affect non-GMO plants? Could GMO plants cross with non-GMO plants? If so, has any testing occurred to know what the outcomes are and how they may affect people or other plants?

Answered By Rod Herman - Oct 10, 2013

A: In addition to the response provided by Steve Savage, it may be helpful to know that technology developers conduct numerous years of studies on new GM plants in the field to assess whether the introduced GM trait impacts the “weediness” of the plant, relative to its non-GM counterparts.  In other words, we conduct studies and collect data to answer these questions:  Is this GM plant more likely to become a weed? If the trait transfers to a non-GM relative, would it make those plants more aggressive or weedy?  As Steve Savage notes, the closely related relatives that can su [...]

GMO Basics GMOs & Farmers Crop protectants