Genetically Modified Food
from genetically modified
have had specific changes introduced
into their DNA by genetic engineering techniques. These
extremely precise; specific DNA sequences are cut out from the
parent organism and new DNA sequences are
GM foods were first put on the
market in the early 1990s. Typically,
genetically modified foods are plant products:
soybean, corn, canola, and cotton
seed oil. Animal products have also been developed, although as of July 2010
none are currently on the market. In 2006
a pig was controversially
to produce omega
3 fatty acids through the expression of a roundw
Researchers have also developed a genetically
modified breed of pigs that are
able to absorb plant phosphorus more efficiently, and as a consequence the
phosphorus content of their manure is reduced by as much as 60%.
Critics have objected to GM
foods on several grounds, including possible safety
issues, ecological concerns, and economic concerns raised by the fact that these
organisms are subject to intellectual property law.
Genetically Modified Organisms Benefits
GMOs can be valuable in many w
Since the mid
1990s, the U.S. Department
of Agriculture has approved 63 genetically engineered (GE) crops for unrestricted
sale, including strains of corn, soybeans, cotton, potatoes, wheat, canola, and
papaya. Most of these crops have been
resist insects or
fungi, while others have been engineered for specific product qualities such as
longer shelf life
; this means that the products can last longer in the supermarkets
Products under development include grains, field crops, fruits,
and flowers designed to achieve desirable growing properties such as cold or
(lack of water)
resistance or efficient use of nitrogen.
resistant GM crops say that the application of
o our foods would
the amount of
that kill pests)
used on our crops. This has beneficial impacts on the environment;
not runoff i
nto rivers and oceans, killing
Increased crop yields
with reduced production costs (from less
need for pesticide
help increase the profits
of farmers. According to ISAAA’s 2006
Review on the Global Status of Commercialized Biotech/GM Crops, 90% or 9.3
million of biotech crop farmers were small
poor farmers from
increased income from biotech crops
these farmers less poor.
ome people believe that genetic modification provides a solution to the problem
(lack of food)
ists have developed “second
eration” GM plants with increased
nutritional contents. Although none of
these have yet been commercialized, several are in the pipeline for regulatory
approval. A good example will be “Golden Rice” that is rich in pro
estimates that up to half a million children go blind
each year because of vitamin A deficiency. Wit
h this in mind, some people see
“Golden Rice” as having the potential of reducing childhood blindness in
Traditional White Rice vs Golden
Genetically Modified Organisms
(An item that causes an allergy, like
in the Food Supply
bring new allergens into foods that sensitive individuals
would not know to avoid. An example is tran
the gene for one of the many allergenic proteins found
in milk into vegetables like carrots. Mothers who know
to avoid giving their sensitive children milk would not
know to avoid giving them
carrots containing milk proteins. The problem is
ique to genetic engineering because it alone can transfer proteins across
species boundaries into completely unrelated organisms.
: One way of thinking generally about the environmental
harm that genetically engineered plants might do i
s to consider that they might
become weeds. Here, weeds mean all plants
in places where humans do not want them.
The term covers everything from Johnson
grass choking crops in fields to kudzu
blanketing trees to melaleuca trees invading
the Everglades. In
each case, the plants are
growing unaided by humans in places where
. In agriculture, weeds can
crop yield. In
unmanaged environments, like the Everglades,
invading trees can
(cause to move)
and upset whole
Addition of foreign genes to plants could also have serious
consequences for wildlife.
For example, engineering crop plants, such as
tobacco or rice, to produce plastics or
endanger mice or deer who consume crop debris left in the fields after harvesting.
Fish that have been engineered to contain
within their bodies)
proteins (such fish have been suggested as living pollution
up devices) could be harmful if
by other fish or raccoons.
Discussion Questions for Higher Level Thinking
What is genetic engineering?
Do you think genetic engineering is a good thing?
What are people worried about who oppo
se genetic engineering?
Do you worry about eating GM (genetically modified) food?
Do you think genetically modified food could harm the ecosystems of the areas
in which they grow?
What do you know / think about the Oncomouse
the mouse specially
modified to help in cancer research?
Do you think it’s essential to modify genes to create new medicines?
Scientists can genetically engineer fruit to contain vaccines at a very
Is this a good idea?
What do you think about cloning?
Would you like to see a cloned version of yourself?
What do you know about genes?
Do you think genetic engineering is playing God and that we should leave life
as it was created?
What do you think of the idea of genetically engineering new bodily
replace yours when you are old?
What do you think would happen if a GM crop or animal started causing major
harm to the environment / us?
Genetic engineering might allow parents to ‘design’ their children before their
What do you t
hink of this?
Should genetic engineering go ahead to eliminate human flaws, such as
violence, jealousy, hate, etc?
What if scientists create a monster human?
What do you understand by the term ‘genetic aristocracy’?
If someone’s genes are chang
ed a lot, are they the same person?
Does the government have the right to limit how far we modify ourselves?
is a type of laboratory mouse that has been
genetically modified using modification
s designed by Philip Leder and Timothy A Stewart
of Harvard University to carry a specific gene called an activated oncogene. The
activated oncogene significantly increases the mouse’s
(chances of getting)
to cancer, and thus makes the mouse
suitable for cancer research. The rights to the
invention are owned by DuPont. "OncoMouse" is a registered trademark.
bright red, green, and orange
color. Although not originally developed for the
ornamental fish trade, it is the first genetically
modified animal to become publicly available as
The original zebrafish (
) from which
the GloFish was developed is a native of rivers
. It measures three
centimeters long and has gold and dark blue
stripes. Over 200 million have been sold in the
last 50 years in the United States ornamental
fish market. Despite the number of zebrafish
sold, they have neve
r established any wild populations in the United States, primarily
because they are tropical fish, unable to survive in the
In 1999, Dr. Zhiyuan Gong and his colleagues at the
National University of Singapore
working with a gene called
green fluorescent protein
(GFP), originally extracted
, that naturally produced bright green
. They inserted the
gene into a zebrafish embryo, allowing it to integrate into the zebrafish's
caused the fish to be brightly fluorescent under both natural white light and ultraviolet
light. Their goal was to develop a fish that could detect
fluorescing in the presence of
. The development of the constantly
fluorescing fish was the first step in this process. Shortly thereafter, his team developed
a line of red fluorescent zebra fish by adding a gene from a sea
, and yellow
fluorescent zebra fish, by adding a variant of the jellyfish gene.
train of mice used for cancer research, called
Oncomouse, was the first mammal to be
Genetically Modified Food Overview
1) Pick one of the italicized words in this segment. Write the word below,
define the word, and use the word in another sentence
(do not use the
sentence given in the article!)
2) In the simplest terms, how do you genetically modify food?
3) Did you have any idea that you eat genetically modified food all the time? Explain.
1) Pick one of the italiciz
ed words in this segment. Write the word below, define the word,
and use the word in another sentence (do not use the sentence given in the article!)
At least three advantages were given on the benefits of genetically modifying
organisms. Below, list three advantages
3) Would you eat golden rice? Why/why not?
1) Pick one of the italicized words in this segment. Write the
word below, define the word, and use the word in another
sentence (do no
t use the sentence given in the article!)
2) At least three disadvantages/risks were given on genetically modifying organisms.
Below, list three disadvantages of GMO’s.
Why do farmers dislike weeds? Explain.
Case Study: Oncomouse
1) How is the on
comouse used in labs?
Do you believe that mammals should be used in human medical research? Explain.
Case Study: Glofish
1) How was the glofish created?
2) Would you want to own a glofish? Why/why not?
Genetically Modifying Organisms:
Let the Critical Thinking Begin!
Answer the questions below using complete sentences and an immense
amount of brain power!
Do you think genetic engineering is a good thing? Explain using evidence from this
tic engineering might allow parents to ‘design’ their children before their birth. Do
you agree or disagree with this idea?
Do you worry about eating genetically modified foods? Explain.