Learning Exercise

Does “G.E.” Really Bring Good Things to Life?

This activity uses a website that helps students develop a better understanding of genetically engineered crops. They are asked, throughout a progression of short readings, whether THEY believe that genetically engineered crops should be grown. With each reading, the students harvest more and more information so they can make more and more educated decisions. Next, the students simulate the genetic engineering of a crop, and they will learn about transgenic manipulation. Finally, the students will examine a “dinner table” and notice all of the items on an evening menu (and directly on the table itself!) that are the products of genetically modified. Throughout the exploration, students are asked to answer questions pertaining to each facet of the activity.
Course: Genetics, Biology, Advanced Placement Biology, Agriscience
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Site has four parts discussing aspects of genetically engineered crops. Of particular interest is the simulation titled... see more

Exercise

A. Click on “Should we grow them” and follow the instructions. When you finish
reading the information and answering the “yes/no” questions, answer the
following questions:
1. Based on your reading, in your opinion what are the three strongest arguments
AGAINST genetically modified crops?
2. Based on your reading, in your opinion what are the three strongest arguments
FOR genetically modified crops?
B. Click on “Engineer a Crop”. Read the introductory material, and then click on
the “Selective Breeding” link and read the background information.
3. Before genetic engineering was done in a laboratory, how did farmers
“improve” their crops from year to year?
Click on “BEGIN” and follow the directions to complete the Selective Breeding
activity. Once you finish this activity, scroll back to the initial generation
of corn.
4. Why did you choose the corn that you chose for each crop?
5. Compare your final “crop” with your first “crop”.
6. Why are the final and initial crops different from each other?
C. Return to “Engineer a Crop” and click on the “Transgenic Manipulation” link.
Click on “BEGIN” and complete the activity. You’ll need to “click-and-drag”
several times to do this.
7. What is a transgenic plant?
8. What is the ultimate, specific goal of this particular transgenic
manipulation?
9. After completing this part of the activity, summarize how a transgenic plant
is produced.
D. Click on the link for “What’s for Dinner?”. When the dinner table shows up,
click on each of the items on the table—don’t forget the tablecloth! Read the
information provided for each item.
10. Choose 4 of the descriptions and summarize each.
E. Finally, click on “Viewpoints” and explore that area of this website. Make
sure you click on each of the 5 links and read the information on each page.
11. Now that you have completed the activity, write a paragraph that wraps up
your understanding and your thoughts about genetically modified crops.
If time permits, take some time to explore this website:
http://www.ornl.gov/sci/techresources/Human_Genome/elsi/gmfood.shtml
Additional Information: NA

Technical Notes

None

Requirements

Students should have a basic understanding of what is meant by “genetic engineering”. As such, they should have a working knowledge of Mendelian genetics and basic genetic modification.

Topics

Biotechnology, Genetics, Molecular Biology, Agriscience

Learning Objectives

After completing this activity, the student will have a deeper understanding of the potential and actual impacts that genetically modified crops may have/have on various aspects of our lives and the well-being of the planet.