Issues in Genetics

Grey Globe

What are GMOs...


A video in the last lesson has the commentator asked several important questions. The next two lessons provide an opportunity to address these topics.

  1. Who owns genes?

  2. What are the serious ethical issues regarding stem cell research?

  3. Are there concerns about cloning plants and animals?

  4. What do you say about human cloning?

  5. What about human reproductive choices?

  6. Is it appropriate to allow individuals the right to choose the sex of their children, or to select any other desired attributes?

  7. Why are there apprehensions about Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs)? Are they well founded?

  8. What are the issues concerning the possibility the GMO plants may aggressively effect native organisms?

  9. Traditionally, farmers have saved seeds. With GMOs the seed, or plant, geneticists may create plants to last one growing cycle. How does that affect the farmer?

  10. What about human, or other growth, hormones concern you?

  11. Are there other issues, or concerns, that you have? They could be that we shouldn't regulate certain GMOs. GMOs go a long way to eradicating hunger.

This topic can create powerful emotional responses. Food and food security issues are country and culture dependent. The availability of clean water and a stable food supply is important to a country's ability to provide for the people living there.

The following video explains some of the technology and issues surrounding GMOs, specifically food.


In your lab reflection book:

Draw a T-Chart on a piece of paper. In the first column, write any good points raised in the video. The second column will list any biases that you may have noted. How balanced is the video in its presentation of the issue surrounding GMOs?

How balanced is the video in its presentation of the issue surrounding GMOs?

Discuss the question with your lab partner and document your response in your reflection notebook.

We are going to explore several other articles and media presentations regarding GMOs.

At the end of the week, we will have poster-presentations installed in the office. We list the outline of the design below.

We may feel passionate about our positions. During in class discussions, remember to present your material and ideas respectfully. The rule is to display considerate critiques of the views of others. You must disagree without being disagreeable. See the classroom rules.

Some of the early reports on GMOs was reported in popular press. Read the following article and take notes in your reflection notebook.

The audio recording above follows the text in the Brave New Farm article.

Where do GMO seeds come from?

Scientists create GMO plants in the lab and grown on a seed farm. The seeds develop with a genetic marker and other promoters that allow identification, inhibit diseases, and provide herbicide resistance. A debate has been going on in one Hawaiian community where GMO seeds grow. Hawaii is desirable because the climate allows three growing cycles. The debate centers on jobs, ethical and health concerns.

Read the following article and take notes in your reflection log:

The Fight over GMO Corn

This last article counters the claim that GMOs increase crop yields. Take notes and collect them in your reflection log. We will address rice in the next lesson.

Disease Cuts Corn Yields

What are the alternatives?

Are family farms the alternatives? Hawaiian Crown Pineapple is trying to survive and revive the Hawaiian pineapple market.

What about organic farming? Checkout the USDA summary of organic farming. Access additional research on both organic and GMO framing on the web.


You may use the articles above in your presentation.

Read and provide a written outline for three (3) other article addressing pros and cons of GMO or organic plant or animal farming. Corn, soybean, canola, Salmon, and oysters are common topics. Information from the articles should support your position.

Collect images that represent your point of view. You will need to credit, or cite, your work.

Locate a presentation board, or cardboard, for your poster project. You will place the posters on a presentation board Tri-fold design with 36 in. height x 48 in. width. The length of two ‘wings’ will be 12 in. each. That would leave 36 in. in the middle.

You may use cardboard if it you cover it, and it conforms to the proper dimension. See your teacher for paper and tape to hold the sides together.

With your lab partner collect the paper that you will need as a frame for your poster.


With your lab partner, create an outline and design for your poster presentation.

Develop a color theme that will make the presentation appealing. Use the background paper to "frame" your written articles.

Position: The left panel of the presentation will contain the hypothesis and position that you are taking.

Information: The middle panel should contain pictures and data from your research. It may be difficult to collect still images from video, but it would be a pleasant addition.

Wrap-it-up: The right panel will contain your results, conclusion, additional required research, etc.

Remember that a good presentation has the following components:

  • Tell the audience what they are going to hear
  • Tell them the information
  • Tell them what you told them and a conclusion