Independent Expert

Ruth MacDonald

Professor and Chair, Food Science and Human Nutrition, Assistant Dean of Graduate Programs, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Iowa State University

Ruth MacDonald is currently the Chair and Professor of the Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition at Iowa State University since 2004. She received her Ph.D. in Nutrition and Food Science from University of Minnesota, and since then, she has written multiple publications about the relationship between soy components and botanicals and breast, prostate, and colon cancer progression.

For the 17 years before her position at Iowa State, she served on the faculty at University of Missouri in the Departments of Food Science and Nutritional Sciences. She was a member of the Food for the 21st Century Nutrition Cluster, and she serves on the editorial board of the Journal of Nutrition, The Korean Journal of Nutrition, been on grant review panels for the US Army Breast Cancer Program, US Department of Agriculture, National Institutes of Health and other funding groups. Additionally, she is a member of the American Association for Nutritional Sciences, American Association for Cancer Research, Sigma Xi, and the Institute for Food Technologists.

From this Expert

Posted On: Thursday, 8/27/2015 1:55 pm
A: Obesity is a major health concern for the U.S. but also in many countries around the world. There are many factors that may have influenced the rapid rise in obesity observed over the past 50 years. Among these are more sedentary and stressful lifestyles, larger portion sizes and more access to fast food. Also, higher consumption of sweetened beverages, especially by children and young adults, has been reported. All of these factors create an imbalance of energy leading to more calories... Continue Reading
Posted On: Tuesday, 6/30/2015 6:29 am
A: The answer to this question is, “no.” DNA is present in all fruits and vegetables, meat, milk and eggs. The molecular structure of DNA is actually pretty simple; it is made up of nucleic acids linked with bonds to create the double helix we are so familiar with seeing. When in that structure DNA is able to transfer information about how to build proteins, DNA is transcribed by RNA and then RNA translates the code to put amino acids together to form proteins.   When DNA is... Continue Reading
Posted On: Thursday, 3/05/2015 8:53 pm
A: The primary type of ‘reaction’ that would occur in response to a chemical consumed in food would be an allergic reaction. There has never been any documented allergic reaction associated with the consumption of a GMO-derived food that is currently available in the US food system. The FDA requires that any new GMO product be tested to ensure there are no potential negative effects due to the proteins expressed by the inserted DNA. Humans and animals have been consuming GMO derived... Continue Reading
Posted On: Friday, 1/30/2015 12:14 pm
A: The way the body digests and utilizes food is the same regardless of how the food was originally produced. GMO technology allows for the insertion of a specific gene (a small piece of DNA) into a plant seed, which then becomes part of the entire pool of DNA in that plant. The inserted gene looks the same as the rest of the DNA, and when we eat the plant, our body breaks down all of the DNA in the same way. The products produced by the DNA are proteins (DNA is a code that tells the plant how to... Continue Reading
Posted On: Tuesday, 8/19/2014 5:12 pm
A: Xanthan gum is made by allowing a very specific bacteria (Xanthomonas campestris) to grow in a liquid solution that contains carbohydrates and other nutrients. While growing, the bacteria uses the carbohydrate to produce the xanthan gum which is released into the liquid. The xanthan gum is then separated completely from the bacteria and the liquid and dried into a powder. Xanthan gum has a chemical structure that is in the same family as carbohydrates but has unique properties for adding... Continue Reading


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