To GMO or not to GMO? Biotechnology Assignment


As described in my blog post with the same title, here is the activity that I have created for my IB biology students to address the subtopic of genetic modification in the genetics unit.   I am actually really excited to how they respond to this activity in terms of their level of motivation and learning.  In the past, I have not devoted as much time to this.  By focusing more attention on Aim #8, which is to raise awareness of the moral, ethical, social, economic and environmental implications of using science and technology, this has potential to have quite an impact on their learning.  I will let you know how it turns out. 

In the end, the essential questions that we will be exploring are: 

  1. How can we assess whether risks are great enough to justify banning techniques?
  2. How can the scientific community inform communities generally about potential risks?
  3. How can we make informed decisions without propagating irrational fears?  
  4. We know that careful research is needed to assess the risks of GMO, but what if the research itself could be risky?  
  5. Do protesters who destroy trials of GM crops make the world safer?

Here is a link to the assignment.  Feel free to do what you will with it.  I am considering working this article from Co.Design into the mix as well.  I would like to get a before and after reaction of the students to the genetic modifications suggested in this article. I might post it to our Facebook group as a pre-reading the night before and then have them respond to a poll. I could then have them revisit their responses after our class debate too see if any have changed their position. Anyway, If you have any other ideas or suggestions, I would love to hear about them! 

By the way, while researching companies the other day, I came across this article.  Needless to say I will not be sharing this article with my students, but I do wonder if they will discover it on their own.  I can't wait for our debate.  I must admit, there were some surprises.  I will be needing to make a call to my financial adviser :-)