PLANT BIOLOGY:
PART II: Genetically Modified Organisms

So now you know a lot of information about plants! However, one of the most common questions from both students and researchers is...... How does this relate to me and my life?!

corn                   tomato

Have you ever heard of the Flavr-Savr tomato? How about problems with hard taco shells? What's in the cotton that you're wearing? These crops - and serveral others - are examples of genetically modified organisms, or GMOs. You will investigate just what GMOs are, and explore the pros and cons of changing plants.

There are three tasks that you must perform:
1. Understand what genetically modified organisms actually ARE, and what might be some good and some bad things about them! Click HERE for links to general information about GMOs.

2. Apply your knowledge - how might different groups of people in the world be impacted by GMOs?

butterfly

Entomologists

farm

Farmers

fda

FDA/Government

globe

Environmentalists

people

Concerned Public  

allergy

Immunologists

 

3. Your final assignment for this project will be to write an essay describing your own personal opinion on the issues and debate surrounding GMOs. You must incorporate evidence that you gathered from your resources, and information that you learned during the debate. The following points must be addressed in your essay:


General information about GMOs:

  1. GMOs: world-saving science, or techno-conspiracy?
    http://www.stanford.edu/~kaichan/articles/GMOs.htm
  2. General GMO information:
    http://www.ornl.gov/sci/techresources/Human_Genome/elsi/gmfood.shtml
  3. Giant list of GMO related websites:
    http://www.ssu.missouri.edu/faculty/SMatthews/GMOs.htm
  4. USDA Agricultural Biotechnology Website:
    http://www.usda.gov/agencies/biotech/index.html
  5. Hot topics series: Genetically Modified Foods: Harmful or Helpful?
    http://www.csa.com/hottopics/gmfood/overview.html
  6. Genetically Modified Plants: To Do or Not To Do
    http://carroll1.cc.edu/~fys/ppp/pros.htm

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Entomologists

Genetic engineering can have effects on insects. One case in particular involves Bt corn and monarch butterflies. Consider the risks that GMO’s can have on insect life, and how genetic modifications can be both beneficial and harmful for insects.

Losey, John E., “Transgenic pollen harms monarch larvae,” Nature, May 20, 1999; 399: 214;

Hellmich, Richard L., et al., “Monarch larvae sensitivity to Bacillus thuringiensis-purified proteins and pollen,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, October 9, 2001; 98 (21): 11925–11930; and

Sears, Mark K., et al., “Impact of Bt corn pollen on monarch butterfly populations: A risk assessment,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, October 9, 2001; 98 (21): 11937–11942.

The above articles are complex and contain material beyond what you need to know. However, there is some useful material in them!

http://www.ipm.iastate.edu/ipm/icm/1999/6-14-1999/monarchbt.html

http://www.ars.usda.gov/is/br/btcorn/

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Farmers

Consider the impact that genetic engineering has on the generation of crops. Issues that farmers face include increase supply of crops in third world countries, as well as ensuring that pests do not descimate their crops. At the same time, those against genetic engineering may not purchase crops, causing problems for farmers.

http://www.inmotionmagazine.com/nfrel.html

http://www.biotech-info.net/GE_cost.html

http://www.charitywire.com/charity62/01258.html

http://www.fao.org/DOCREP/003/X9602E/x9602e05.htm#P0_0

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FDA/Government regulation and associations

http://www.aphis.usda.gov/bbep/bp/overview.html

http://www.cast-science.org/cast/biotech/0002abab.htm

http://www.cfsan.fda.gov/label.html
(NOTE: this is NOT a link, you must type the address into the browser)

http://www.foodsafety.gov/

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Environmentalists

http://www.fao.org/DOCREP/003/X9602E/x9602e07.htm#P0_0

http://www.icsu-scope.org/downloadpubs/scope44/chapter13.html

http://www.cyberparent.com/gran/geneticfoodsenvironment.htm

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Concerned Public Citizens

http://www.commercialdiplomacy.org/ma_projects/ma_sandblom5.htm

http://www.calgefree.org/

http://washingtonrighttoknow.thwww.com/

http://www.safe-food.org/

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Immunologists

Proteins can be allergens, meaning that genetically modified organisms that have foreign genetic material may cause issues for human health.

Hileman, Bette, “What’s hiding in transgenic foods?” Chemical & Engineering News, Jan 7, 2002, 20–22

http://ohioline.osu.edu/hyg-fact/5000/5058.html

http://www.biotech-info.net/GE_foods_health.html

http://www.fao.org/DOCREP/003/X9602E/x9602e06.htm#P0_0

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Author: Jennifer Holzman, Emory University
Last Updated: January 25, 2007
© 2007 PRISM and Emory University. This material is based upon work supported by the GK-12 program of the National Science Foundation, under Award #DGE0231900. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation or Emory University.