DNA Extraction

Creating a Transgenic Plant Pamphlet

Case Study: Bt Corn Pollen and the Monarch Butterfly

Designing a System to Ensure GE Agricultural Safety.

Debate: Are Monarchs at Risk From Bt Corn?

Poster: Designing a New Genetically Engineered Food Product

Position Paper: GE Safety

Student Survey

Resistance vs. Susceptibility

Plant Breeding and Predicting Offspring Traits

Position Paper on the Safety of Genetically Engineered Foods

By Patty Hain - croptechnology.unl.edu

Genetically engineered crops have generated a lot of controversy. However, 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. The information they obtain will be used to discover their position on the safety of a particular genetically engineered crop product. Students 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.


    Upon completion of this lesson, the students will:
  1. research and discuss the basis of the arguments for and against genetically engineered crops in the food supply outlined in questions below.
  2. evaluate the facts for both points of view.
  3. analyze the quality of information sources
  4. determine the position they agree with
  5. explain their position and support the discussion with facts

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.

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

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:
nutrition,quality,yield, pharmaceutical benefit, and change of other trait (i.e. color, texture).

b) What are the basic concerns about the safety of transgenic food for human consumption as they specifically relate to:
allergic reactions, anti-biotic resistance, uptake of new genes by the consumer,change in level of toxins.

c) 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?

6. 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.

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

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

Useful Internet Resources

Assessment: 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).

Partial support for this lesson provided by American Distance Education Consortium (ADEC)

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