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biology assignment


Biology:Applied Final: GMOs and Feeding the World

Please respond with a different color of font and include your original questions. Attach your response to the journal site by midnight on Wednesday, May 3rd.


1. Journey around the world and explore the use of GMOs and their application for feeding the world.….

2. Determine your belief on the following: Are GMOs are a good thing for society or are we heading into dangerous territory in their use?


1. There are 12 Main “Thought Questions”.

3. You will be asked to review the background information I have provided and visit the various articles and videos for each question.

4. IMPORTANT: You MUST answer the “Thought Questions” in red at the beginning of each. Reading the associate article may help establish your response. ..

5. You will then respond to the questions following the article.

What are the ethical concerns regarding GMOs in the food industry?

“God (Nature in my view) makes all things good; man meddles with them and they become evil…” “― Jean-Jacques Rousseau; philosopher, 1770

“An ecosystem, you can always intervene and change something in it, but there’s no way of knowing what all the downstream effects will be …” – Dr. Richard Lewontin, Professor of Genetics, Harvard University

“The controversy surrounding genetically modified organisms has real importance for society, there are complex scientific and logical issues to sort through, and the topic is rife with misinformation and motivated reasoning……” -Dr. Novella, academic neurologist; Yale University School of Medicine

Remember, the first step in ethical problem solving and policy decision making should first involve ascertaining the facts
. Facts by themselves, however, only tell us what is; they do not tell us what ought to be.

Resolving an ethical issue also requires an appeal to values. Before tackling the GMO debate, let’s review the five different approaches philosophers have developed to deal with moral issues.

After learning the science and obtaining facts, Keep philosophical approaches in mind when tackling the GMO issues.

1. Utilitarian Approach: What benefits and what harms will each course of action produce, and which alternative will lead to the best overall consequences?

2. Rights Approach: What moral rights do the affected parties have, and which course of action best respects those rights?

3. Fairness or Justice Approach: Which course of action treats everyone the same, except where there is a morally justifiable reason not to, and does not show favoritism or discrimination?

4. Common Good Approach: Which course of action advances the common good?

5. Virtue Approach: Which course of action develops moral virtues?

(1) What is the GMO debate really about? (35 points; 9 for essay response and 26 for attached questions)

The GMO Controversy

“GMO critics despise corporate control and greed, and fear the unnatural, while GMO advocates see this technology as an example of the triumph of human ingenuity and science”

(26 points total: each short answer question is worth 1 point. Each T/F worth .5 point. )-

1. beliefs concerning GMOs tend to be dominated by two opposing narratives: What are they?

2. GMO advocates point out that pretty much all food that is consumed by humans has already been extensively modified by human activity. (True or False?)

3. What was corn cultivated from?

4. Cultivation uses a combination of what two basic processes to create countless varieties of common plants?

5. What is artificial selection?

6. What is cross pollination?

7. Orange carrots are not the result of a mutation (True or False?)

8. What is mutation breeding?

9. How many mutagenic plant varietals were released between 1930 and 2007?

10. What are the two basic types of GMOs?

11. What is the difference between the two types of GMOs?

12. What are the four types of GM plants currently approved for use?

13. Contamination of genes from other kingdoms occurs, even in nature (True or False?)

14. According to the American Association for the Advancement of science, GM crops are the most extensively tested crops ever added to our food supply. (True or False?)

15. According to the article, studies comparing GM and non-GM potatoes, soy, rice, corn and triticale found that the GM and their non-GM counterparts are NOT nutritionally equivalent.” (True or False?)

16. The National Academies of Science states that “To date, no adverse health effects attributed to genetic engineering have been documented in the human population.” (True or False?)

17. What does the World Health Organization say about GM foods?

18. Plants that are produced through hybridization, which can chaotically mix in hundreds of genes, and plants resulting from mutagenic breeding do not require the same safety testing currently required of GMOs. (True or False?)

19. What are the advantages of herbicide resistant plants?

20. What are the disadvantages of herbicide resistant plants?

21. What are the advantages of pest resistant crops?

22. What are the disadvantages of pest resistant crops?

23. According to the article GM crops with insect and herbicide resistance can be useful and even protect the environment, but they have to be used as part of what type of strategy?

24. What are the three major seed companies?

25. What are some of the claims made against Monsanto that, according to the article, are not true?

26. According to the article, the big seed companies have overhyped their own products and encouraged overreliance on their GMOs as a single solution to farming’s complex issues. True or False?

27. Why are Monocultures counterproductive?

28. According to the article, Seed companies should be encouraged to not just make one variety with a favorable trait, but do what?

29. What are seven benefits listed for GMOS ?

30. According to the article, Genetic modification is a powerful technology, and its impact will depend entirely on what?

(2) Are GMOs safe?Why do you feel this way?
(35 points=Essay response to this question = 11 points; questions below: 24 points )

Attack of the Killer Tomatoes?

“On one hand, you have the proponents who are talking about the benefits of genetic engineering in terms of science. On the other, you have people in butterfly costumes.”

24 points total: (each question is worth 2 points).

1. England’s Prince of Whales claims that GMOs do what?

2. Where does the Catholic church stand with regard to GMOs?

3. Why does the author compare GMOs to microwaves and DDT?

4. Has any medical harm resulted to humans as a result of ingesting GMOs?

5. What is the “Terminator gene” and what is the controversy surrounding it?

6. Why are the risks of GMO being defined by those who are frightened?

7. How long have GMOs been on the market here in the United States without the consumer knowledge?

8. Under what conditions does the Food and Drug Administration require the labeling of Genetically modified foods?

9. What might increase the consumer’s trust in the use of GMOs?

10. The United States has the Food and Drug Administration and Environmental Protection Agency to regulate food safety. Who regulates food safety in Europe?

11. What disease occurred in Europe that ultimately put the blame on farmers and, according to the authors, led to a heightened fear of the food industry by Europeans?

12. What is the consequentialism theory?

(3) Should companies be allowed to test or grow their productions around the world? How should countries work together to solve issues of world hunger? Why or why not
? (Total 30 points: essay response worth 10 points, questions below: 20 points)

The Future of Food:

“A common approach to thinking about the ethics of the genetic engineering of food crops and the appropriate regulatory environment is by evaluating safety and weighing potential risks and benefits.”

Directions: respond to the following questions for 20 points total. Point value follows each question.

1. what are the most commonly grown GM crops in the US?( 5 points)

2. What was the first GM organism? (2 points)

3. what are the GM benefits for bananas, potatoes, peanuts and tomatoes? (2 points)

4. Why did the California Food and Agriculture Department deny Ventria’s request to grow GM rice? (2 points)

5. What is INB Biotechnologies developing through the transgenic modification of petunias? (2 points)

6. Describe four risks of GMOS (4 points)

7. Describe three benefits for GMOs (3 points)

(4) What is the technology behind the controversy
?(briefly describe 10 points total=5 points essay response,5 points questions below)

Video #1 Genetic Modification (5 min)

“The crops we see today are vastly different from those plants that existed at the dawn of civilization Since the beginning o agriculture farmers and gardeners have altered the genetic codes of plants and animals even if they were not aware of it at the time. …”.

1. Where did the Modified Bacterium approach to gene insertion come from?

2. How does a gene gun work?

(5) Which course of action (spraying/ or GMO seeds) advances the common good?

(15 points total: Essay response is worth 5 points, questions below are worth 10)

85% of the foods we eat come from large farms….Farmers want to know : ” Can Monsanto’s genetic technology help get rid of a big pest: the European Corn borer caterpillar?”

.Video #2 The Farmer’s perspective: Evolution BT Corn Genes and Bug Genes (5 min)

Directions: Each question below is worth 2 points for a total of 10 points

1. How specific can farmers get with conventional pesticide spraying techniques?

2. Why would a farmer turn to GE crops for controlling insects?

3. Is the BT toxin harmful to humans ? Is it harmful to most other insects?

4. What did the Environmental protection agency mandate in order to deal with the issue of resistant pests?

5. Who monitors whether or not the farmers are laying aside land for this area of refuge for insects?

(6) Farmers have been improving wheat for over 10,000 years….Do the benefits of GE crops outweigh any risks; why or why not?
(20 points total: Essay 5 points and questions 15 points)

video #3 Public perception of GMO’s: The eyes of Nye: Genetically modified foods

Directions: each question below is worth 3 points for a total of 15 points.

1. How long does it take to get a domesticated variety of wheat using cross breeding

2. 91 percent of all GE crops planted around the world belong to what corporation?

3. Why was Dr.Sarah Hake opposed to lumping transgenic genes into one category?

4. According Dr. Steven Jones (wheat breeder) researchers are using technology on problems that do not need solutions. What does he believe the real cure for world hunger is ?

5. According to the film, we should do three things with regard to GMOs: (fill in the blanks)

a. farm____________

b. demand___________

c. test___________on a case by case basis

Tackling the Ethical issues:

I. Owning Food

· GMO products are usually patented and owned by a corporation. These ownership rights extend to the next generation of seeds produced by the plants.

· This means farmers who use a GMO crop cannot save and store their seeds for future sowing; the seeds are owned by the corporation and must be purchased again every year.

· GMO seeds may also blow in the wind onto neighboring fields, where they may grow on an unsuspecting farmer’s land. This will not only contaminate the farmer’s natural crop with a GMO crop he did not wish to plant, but it may also force him to defend himself in an expensive patent-infringement lawsuit.

· Monsanto, the leading producer of GMO crops, had filed 90 such lawsuits as of 2005, according to The Center for Food Safety.

(7) Do companies have the right to patent their products…even if their product is a living organism? Can technological innovations be open to poaching?
(10 points total: Essay 4 points and questions below 6 points)

Monsanto sues farmer for exploiting loophole in GMO licensing

Directions each question is worth 2 points for a total of 6 points

1. Why is Monsanto suing this Indiana farmer?

2. Monsanto’s opponents argue that the company has tried to use patent law to control the supply of seeds for what crops?

3. According to the article,. Monsanto has attracted a bushel of researchers, universities and other agribusiness concerns to its side because of something they fear. What is it they fear?

(8) Does a GMO farmer have the duty of care to a neighbor that’s growing organic crops not to contaminate them?How would you manage this situation

? (5 points total)

Farmers fight landmark oz GMO case

1. This articles describes a landmark case. It is the first time in Australia where one farmer has sued another for negligence over what?

II.Controlling Nature and the consequences of disrupting the ecosystem

Do scientists have the right to Play God?

· Genetically modified crops are created by adding the genes of one species to the genes of another. This is done to create a plant with traits such as herbicide-resistance or pest-resistance.

· It is not the same as the age-old agricultural tradition of selecting and naturally breeding plants or animals of the same or similar species in order to encourage certain traits noted in the parent species.

· The GMO “flavor-saver tomato,” for example, was thought to be created by injecting fish (flounder) genes into the DNA of a tomato. (visit the site below)


· Some people may not be morally comfortable with this level of genetic manipulation or with the idea of “playing God.”

(9) Are we Playing God in the use of GMOs or is this valuable technology we need to advance health and nutrition?
(20 points total: 5 points for essay response and 15 for questions below)

“GMO adoption is growing every year. It’s time we had an open discussion about the best path to take……”

video #4 Are we Playing God?(11 min)
(15 points total)

1. With regard to GMOs , the author states that he would like to think about the butterflies, the rich white people and what other group? (4 points)

2. List 5 pros (benefits) for GMOs (5 points)

3. List 6 cons (disadvantages) (6 points)

III.Health and Safety of Our Food : Regulation of Labeling

“The burning question for us all then becomes how-and how quickly-can we move healthy, organic products from a 4.2% market niche, to the dominant force in American food and farming?  The first step is to change our labeling laws…”Organic Consumers Association 08/02/12

“We are going to force them to label this food. If we have it labeled, then we can organize people not to buy it.” Center for Food Safety

“Personally, I believe GM foods must be banned entirely, but labeling is the most efficient way to achieve this.” 

(10) What types of rights do consumer’s have regarding food?
(10 points total)

GMO Labeling Not about Right-to-Know but Right-to-Misinform

1. What are the eight issues that exist which support the view that “Identifying food products with a GMO label is not about right-to-know but about the right-to-misinform”?

2. Why is GMO labeling misleading?

3. If someone is concerned with not consuming GMOs, what alternate label can they look for?

(11) What type of labeling do you support?
which course of action treats everyone the same, except where there is a morally justifiable reason not to, and does not show favoritism or discrimination?
(5 points total)

US Farmers, food interests unite against GMO labeling

“If each state had a different label requirement, our farmers just couldn’t adapt to that and really economically grow safe, affordable food,”

1. According to Ray Gaesser, president of the American Soybean Association, what would the consequences be to farmers if each state had a different label requirement?

2. Farmers and Food interest groups suggest that what agency determine labeling requirements?

(12) Do you feel labeling is misleading ? Why or why not
? (total of 30 points: 9 for essay and 22 for questions)

Straight Talk on Genetically Modified Organisms

“Label claims are misleading, because they falsely imply that the food made without GE ingredients is somehow safer than or superior to the same product made with GE ingredients. “

(Focus on the section under “Federal Regulation of GE crops”questions 9-21)

Directions : each question is worth 2 points for a total of 22 points.

1. How does the government regulate GE crops? (question #10 in article)

3. Who ensure that our food is safe to eat? (#11)

4. What should the government be doing to ensure food safety of GE crops?(#12)

5. Which agencies regulate the environmental safety of GE crops?(#13)

6. According to the article, (under question #14) What percentage of noncompliance was seen among farmers in 2009?

7. According to the article, the EPA needs to ensure that farmers comply with refuge requirements. What are these?

8. What loophole is present in the USDA regulatory system that allows for some GE varieties to be released into the environment without any regulation?(#15)

9. What are the primary health concerns of GE crops?(#17)

10. Can GM foods cause new allergies? (#18)

11. What are the major environmental risks? (#19)

Extra credit #1: Should we move forward with GMOs? (15 points)

Part I:

1. With all of the scientific literature supporting GMOs, why is there still an intense debate? Respond with a brief essay

2. Search for a website that illustrates GMOs are not safe. Attach your link here_________and briefly summarize the article

Describe whether you agree or disagree with the article you attached and why.

Part II: Review Article: An overview of the past 10 years of genetically engineered crop safety research

“The scientific research conducted so far has not detected any significant hazards directly connected with the use of GE crops; however, the debate is still intense. An improvement in the efficacy of scientific communication could have a significant impact on the future of agricultural GE”.

1. From 2002-20012 over 1735 studies were conducted on GE organisms. Interactions of GE crops with the environment (specifically biodiversity) represented what percentage of these studies?

2. Debates about Biodiversity and the GE food/feed consumption , even if positive , have frequently been distorted by the media and often used politically and inappropriately. (True or False?)

3. What are your thoughts on this article? Do you feel the science is unbiased?

Extra credit#2 World Hunger : (15 points)

Part I.World Hunger: Is genetic modification of food a necessary tool to relieve world hunger?

1. Respond with a short essay to the above question

2. Find a website that supports the type of technology/humanity that is needed to solve the world hunger crisis.

3. Attach your website link to the article here__________

4. Briefly summarize the article and why you chose it.

Part II: Coalition for safe and affordable food

1. Advocates of GMO crops claim the technology holds great promise for alleviating world hunger. They argue that genetically engineered crops will increase food yields, reduce food prices and ensure enough food is available. (True or False?)

2. Crops can also be modified for improved nutritional value. This can potentially help poor countries target particular nutritional deficiencies. (True or False?)

3. The Coalition for safe and affordable food supports a federal legislative solution that will protect consumers by eliminating confusion and advancing food safety (True or False?)

Extra credit#3: Environmnetal Justice (15 points)

Part I.

1. Environmental Justice: What does this mean?

2. Should the United States impose their restrictions on Genetically modified products in other countries?

3. What would your proposal be?

4. Find a website that illustrates the concept unfairness in food distribution.

5. Do we have a right to food or is it a privilege? Do you feel this is different in different cultures?

6. Find a website that supports your view on feeding the poor around the world. Post the link here____________Breifly summarize the article

Part II. Meet Mr. Frankenfood

1. Since 1996, Farmers have been forced to purchase GM seeds which are not as resilient (True or False?)

2. Only 10% of all acres planted with soybean or corn are GM crops (True or False?)

3. According to the article, the biotech derived products that we eat are the most highly tested and regulated components in what we consume,” (True or False?)

4. What is the most common explanation for why consumers do not wish to consume GM food?

5. Why does Ben and Jerry’s Ice cream not support GMOs?

6. Food prices for consumers would not be affected if labeling of GMOs were required. (True or False?)

7. What type of labeling is already in place at the federal level?

8. According to the article, how long does it take to build an inch of top soil?

9. Cotton is the only GM approved crop in India. Why?

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