John C. Sanford

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John C. Sanford (born 1950) is an American plant geneticist, and an advocate of intelligent design and creationism.


Academic career[edit]

Sanford graduated in 1976 from the University of Minnesota with a BSc in horticulture. He went to the University of Wisconsin–Madison where he received an MSc in 1978 and a PhD in 1980 in plant breeding/plant genetics. Between 1980 and 1986 Sanford was an assistant professor of Horticultural Sciences at Cornell University, and from 1986 to 1998 he was an associate professor of Horticultural Science. Although retiring in 1998, Sanford continues at Cornell as a courtesy associate professor. He held an honorary Adjunct Associate Professor of Botany at Duke University. Sanford has published over 70 scientific publications in peer reviewed journals.[1][2]


Sanford is a prolific inventor with more than 32 issued patents. At Cornell Sanford and colleagues developed the "Biolistic Particle Delivery System" or so-called "gene gun".[3][4][5] He is the co-inventor of the Pathogen-derived Resistance (PDR) process and the co-inventor of the genetic vaccination process. He was given the "Distinguished Inventor Award" by the Central New York Patent Law Association in 1990 and 1995. He has founded two biotechnology companies, Sanford Scientific and Biolistics. In 1998 he retired on the proceeds from the sale of his biotech companies, and continued at Cornell as a courtesy associate professor.

Genetic Entropy & the Mystery of the Genome[edit]

Sanford has argued for devolution in his book Genetic Entropy & the Mystery of the Genome (2005, 2008).,[6][7] He summarized all evolutionary major population models in the Appendix.

Mendel's Accountant[edit]

Sanford and colleagues developed the quantitative forward genetic modeling program Mendel's Accountant. Sanford et al. published two peer reviewed papers dealing with genetic entropy in computing journals concerned with modeling methodology.[8][9]

Based on quantitative modeling evidence developed using Mendel's Accountant and from the mutation evidence he compiled, Sanford holds that the genome is deteriorating and therefore could not have evolved in the way specified by the modern evolutionary synthesis.

Intelligent design and creationism[edit]

Formerly an atheist[10] from the mid-1980s, Sanford has looked into theistic evolution (1985–late 1990s), Old Earth creationism (late 1990s), and Young Earth creationism (2000–present). According to his own words, he did not fully reject Darwinian evolution until the year 2000.[citation needed] An advocate of intelligent design, Sanford testified in 2005 in the Kansas evolution hearings on behalf of intelligent design, during which he denied the principle of common descent and "humbly offered... that we were created by a special creation, by God".

He stated that he believed the age of the Earth was "less than 100,000" years.[11] Sanford uses an analogy to illustrate evidence of design - that of a car versus a junkyard: "A car is complex, but so is a junkyard. However, a car is complex in a way that is very specific — which is why it works. It requires a host of very intelligent engineers to specify its complexity, so it is a functional whole."[12] Intelligent-design advocate William Dembski cites the accomplishments of Sanford as evidence of the scientific status of intelligent design, since Sanford is a specialist in genetic engineering and a Courtesy Associate Professor in Horticulture. However, almost all geneticists and biologists reject Sanford's position. Dembski[13] endorsed Sanford's book Genetic Entropy & the Mystery of the Genome.[14]


  1. ^ John C. Sanford, NY State Agricultural Experiment Station
  2. ^ John C. Sanford, Courtesy Associate Professor, Cornell University Dept. of Horticulture
  3. ^ Cornell Chronicle, May 14, 1987, page 3.Biologists invent gun for shooting cells with DNA
  4. ^ Sanford JC et al (1987) Delivery of substances into cells and tissues using a particle bombardment process. Journal of Particulate Science and Technology 5:27-37.
  5. ^ Klein, TM et al (1987) High-velocity microprojectiles for delivering nucleic acids into living cells. Nature 327:70-73.
  6. ^ Sanford, John C. (2005-10-25). Genetic Entropy & the Mystery of the Genome. Ivan Press. ISBN 978-1-59919-002-0. 
  7. ^ Sanford, John C. (2008). Genetic Entropy & the Mystery of the Genome 3rd Ed. FMS Publications. p. 248. ISBN 978-0-9816316-0-8. 
  8. ^ Sanford, J.C., Baumgardner, J., Brewer, W., Gibson, P., ReMine, W. (2007). Mendel's Accountant: a biologically realistic forward-time population genetics program. SCPE 8(2): 147-165.
  9. ^ Sanford, J.C., Baumgardner, J., Brewer, W., Gibson, P., ReMine, W. (2007). Using computer simulation to understand mutation accumulation dynamics and genetic load. In Shi et al. (Eds.), ICCS 2007, Part II, LNCS 4488 (pp.386-392), Springer-Verlag, Berlin, Heidelberg.
  10. ^ Transcripts of the Kansas Evolution Hearings
  11. ^ Transcripts of the Kansas Evolution Hearings
  12. ^ Intelligent Design: Professors discuss Teaching the Controversial Subject Xiaowei Cathy Tang. Cornell Daily Sun, November 15, 2005
  13. ^ ID at Cornell, John Sanford and Allen MacNeill Dembski., April 14, 2006
  14. ^ Respected Cornell geneticist rejects Darwinism in his recent book Dembski., June 1, 2006

External links[edit]