Position Paper on the Safety of Genetically Engineered Foods††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††



There are many aspects to the controversy over genetically engineered crops and food safety that should be considered when deciding which position to agree with. In this lesson, students will research a topic of food safety in genetic engineering and use the information they obtain to discover their position on the safety of a particular genetically engineered crop product.They will address the key issues raised by the opposing view a make a case for why their stance is the more valid of the two views. In the topic of biotechnology safety there are varying degrees in the quality and accuracy of information.Students will spend a great deal of their time analyzing the sources of their information, checking for accuracy and underlying bias.Students will pay particular attention to the quality of the information because this will ultimately decide the strength of their argument.



-          Students will research and discuss the basis of the arguments for and against genetically engineered crops in the food supply outlined in questions below.

-          Students will evaluate the facts for both points of view.

-          Students will analyze the quality of information sources

-          Students will determine the position they agree with

-          Students will explain their position and support the discussion with facts


Ideas for product research

Vitamin A enriched rice

Bt Corn

Bt Potatoes

Virus Resistant Papaya

Herbicide tolerant Corn

Herbicide tolerant soybeans

Delayed ripening tomatoes

Modified Oil Canola

Modified Oil Soybeans




1.Students will select a genetically engineered crop to research

2.Students will search for information regarding the safety of their selected crop on the Web in newspapers, and in journal articles.

3.Students will decide, based on the quality of information they found, their position on the safety of the genetically engineered food.

4.Students will write a position paper on their stance of the safety of their selected food product, supporting their argument and addressing the concerns of the opposing view.Students will state their position addressing the key points raised by the opposing view, and conclude with a summary paragraph.



In the paper, students should address the following questions:


a. What are the potential benefits of transgenic food for consumers as they specifically relate to:

o        Nutrition

o        Quality

o        Amount

o        Pharmaceuticals

o        Change of other trait (i.e. color, texture)


2) What are the basic concerns about the safety of transgenic food for human consumption as they specifically relate to:

o        Allergic reactions

o        Resistance to Antibiotics

o        Uptake of new genes by the consumer

o        Change in level of toxins

3) What is the process that transgenic food must go through to be approved for human consumption? In your opinion is this adequate?Why or Why not?


  1. The instructor and students will discuss their opinions and findings in a classroom discussion.Emphasis on the quality of the information found by the students and how this information affected studentsí views and beliefs should be a focus of the discussion.

7.Resources used will be cited and a bibliography included.

Lesson Adaptation Suggestions

-          This could be used in conjunction with a classroom debate on the topic of biotechnology food safety.

-          This lesson can be conducted in small groups of 2-4 students per topic








Students should be assessed on the strength of their argument using the resources cited.Students can be further evaluated on how well they discussed each of the questions outlined, proper length, and if they included all parts of the paper (intro, conclusion, etc).