GMOs are genetically modified organisms. These organisms have, in some way, had their genome altered (the “genome” is the total of all the genes in an organism of a specific species). The creation of GMOs involves using recombinant technology to place genes from one organism into another of a different species to confer some trait. For example, Monsanto Company has placed a gene from a soil bacterium into the genome of a potato plant, giving the potato plant resistance to a common pest, the Colorado potato beetle.
These potatoes are now commercially grown in the U. S. The pesticide that sed to be sprayed on the potatoes to fight the beetle is no longer necessary. The U. S. is the primary producer of GMO foods in the world. GMOs are often referred to correctly as “transgenic organisms” and “genetically engineered organisms. ” In addition to plants, many types of bacteria and animals have all been genetically engineered. Bacteria are used to produce human protein, such as insulin, through the insertion of the human gene into their genome.
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Additionally, goats have been engineered to produce valuable human protein in their milk and pigs to produce hemoglobin in large quantities in their blood. Extra Options (20-50 minutes) – use power point presentation to introduce the topic of GMO’s. Notes for the presentation are at the end of this document. Show Food, INC. chapter and use Food, INC. discussion guide or PBS lesson plan. http://www. pbs. org/pov/foodinc/lessonplan3. php “From Seed to the Supermarket’ (length 9:50) The clip begins at 1 2 with a shot of a sunrise Over a farm and ends at 1 : 1 6:02 with the on-screen text: “Monsanto declined to be interviewed for this film. Activity: Setting the stage (10 – 15 minutes per piece) Teacher will choose student volunteers to take on the roles of those ndividuals in the two News Hour pieces entitled “High Tech Food” and “Seeding the Future,” Have the students sit in front of the class and go through the piece, acting as the interviewer and the interviewees. This could be given to the students a day or two prior to the presentation, giving them a chance to read over and highlight their parts and understand the context of their roles. This can be made more exciting for the students by acquiring a few items, such as a microphone, a lab coat, overalls etc. for the readers. Instruct students that are listening to listening jot down words and phrases ith which they are unfamiliar. Students will read the article aloud to the class and take notes of words and phrases with which they are unfamiliar. These can be used as a discussion piece later. This activity and both of these articles do an excellent job of presenting to students the many perspectives on the GMO food debate. This activity could be used to introduce the topic or to kickoff a class discussion or a more formal debate.
Here is the cast of characters for “High Tech Food” Announcer/Spokesman: Reads all non-specific text and part of Ray SuarezC] Paul Solman: WGBH Business Correspondent (main speaking role)DAndrew Waber: Pioneer Hi-Bred Representative DPeg Armstrong-Gustafson: Pioneer Hi-Bred RepresentativeL] Sue Roberts: Nutrition Consultant? George Naylor: FarmerC] Neil Hamilton: Agricultural Law Professor, Drake universityC] Robert Shapiro: Monsanto CEOD Dermont Hayes: Economist, Iowa State University Here is the cast of characters for “Seeding the Future. Announcer/Spokesman: Introduces the piece and reads abstracto Tom Bearden: Correspondent (main speaking role)? Tim Hume: Farmer? John Losey: Cornell University? Val Giddings: Biotechnology Industry Organizationa Jane Rissler: Union of Concerned Scientists Dan Peters: Farmer Activity: Group Brainstorming and Reporting Out (1 5 – 20 minutes) Teacher will instruct student to work in groups of 2 or 3. Outfit each group with large sheets of construction or other paper and markers.
This activity will act to assure that students all understand exactly what a GMO is and as well ask them to revisit the News Hour pieces they just heard and pick out the salient arguments behind each perspective. Instructors could provide each group with a printed copy of the pieces. Students will complete 2 brief activities in groups of 2 or 3: 1 . Each group must produce a list of the steps a biotechnologist would need o conduct in order to create a GMO. Use corn or soybeans as an example. 2. Each group must generate a list of the benefits and potential risks of GMO foods to farmers, consumers and the environment.
They could place these into a simple table. Teacher will engage students in a classroom discussion by asking students from each group to report out until it is clear that all students understand how GMOs are generated in the laboratory and all benefits and risks have been explored and topics exhausted. This is very open ended. If they arise, you may want to forgo more ethical discussions to include in Activity Ill. Activity: Global Ethics and Classroom Discussion (10 – 15 minutes) Teacher will pass out a copy of the article entitled “Food Crisis in Zambia”. Instruct students to read the article.
Ask students to raise their hands to respond to the article after the class has had a chance to read it. Students will read the article and respond to the article in a class discussion. Wrap up/reflection: (10-15 minutes) Teacher will ask students if they have any final thoughts or questions related to any of today’s discussions. Students will respond with thoughts and questions about todays class. Teacher will pass out and explain the homework assignment. Assessment: Teacher will pass out homework assignment sheet. Instruct students to poll their families and friends regarding GMOs and their consumption of GMOs.
Use the poll questions below or preferably generate the questions as a class. Each student should poll 3-5 other people and tally results in class. Genetically Modified Organisms Background Information This lesson is designed to expose students to the various issues surrounding GMO foods and to help them understand the complexity Of the issues surrounding the biotechnology movement. Students will read aloud from two News Hour pieces, both of which involve a variety of perspectives surrounding the GMO issue. Additionally, students will try to identify GMO foods that they have consumed and discuss the “to label or not to label” debate.
At home students will be surveying family and/or peers and attempting to identify GMOs they consume on a daily basis. The article entitled “Food Crisis in Zambia” will bring a more global understanding to the issue of GMOs and will get students thinking about biotechnology, globalization and ethics. Extension activities further explore the ethical issues surrounding GMOs, llow students to participate in government by petitioning their congressmen and congresswomen and give them an opportunity to look at biotech information from opposing interests.