Student Created Survey on Public Knowledge of Genetically Engineered Food Products
Introduction How the public (consumers) view biotechnology is a critical component in whether or not a new product is accepted and whether research and development on these emerging products will continue. Education and understanding of the scientific facts about biotechnology is important in coming to an informed decision or point of view. Unfortunately, many people make decisions about the safety of genetically engineered foods based on rumor or incorrect information.
In this lesson, students will become better informed about the safety of genetically engineered products and will investigate public opinion about these products. Students will learn the basic facts and issues related to crop biotechnology and food safety and develop a survey to measure the knowledge and opinions of the public about this issue.
- Students will identify common misconceptions that the public has about biotechnology
- Students will write survey questions that will gather data on the public's level of knowledge about biotechnology and
- Students will collect data on public knowledge and opinion of genetically engineered foods
- Students will analyze data results
- Students will formulate a hypothesis and include supporting data in a report/presentation with graphs and charts.
- 1. Students will investigate and discuss as a class basic facts about biotechnology and food safety. Excellent resources on the Web include http://croptechnology.unl.edu and http://agbiosafety.unl.edu
- 2. Small groups of 3-4 students will develop a survey that documents the knowledge and opinions of people in their school or community. Survey questions will be based on the concepts of the process of biotechnology and public opinions of food safety issues (Survey questions outlined below).
- 3. Student will analyze data and summarize the results in a written report that includes graphs and charts followed by a written conclusion of the results of the survey.
- 4. Each group will then present the results to the class and a classroom discussion will follow.
Survey Questions Ideas
1. The survey should include a section of questions to obtain demographic information (i.e. grade/age, occupation).
2. The remaining questions should gather opinions and information about:
- Their basic knowledge of biotechnology?
o What do they really know as opposed to what they think they know (questions about DNA, and biotechnology facts)
- Where do people get most of their information about biotechnology?
- How do people feel about biotechnology and eating transgenic food?
- Are people more accepting of transgenic food if the new trait directly benefits the consumer as opposed to the producer? (i.e. Increased nutrition as opposed to insect resistance)
- What the opinions are on labeling genetically engineered food? Should they be labeled? Why or why not?
The survey questions should be limited to 1-2 pages in length so that the data collected can be easily analyzed and summarized.
Another adaptation of this lesson is where students work together to design one survey and each student would be responsible for surveying 5-10 people. The results can be compiled and the entire class can analyze and discuss the results together.
USEFUL INTERNET RESOURCES
Students should be assessed on composition and delivery of the survey and analysis and presentation of the results. This may be done on a point based system or on a project presentation rubric.