Food Inc.

Report
Food Inc.
Warm up
Discuss at your table:
• Have you eaten any GMO (genetically
modified organisms) food today?
GMO Seeds
To make genetically modified seeds, companies
manipulate the gene sequence in a plant’s DNA
so that it has special traits, such as the ability to
tolerate a specific weed killer while the plants
around it die.
Quiz
In which country are the most GMO crops
grown?
A.
B.
C.
D.
E.
China
Brazil
Argentina
United States
Canada
Quiz
What percentage of food in U.S. supermarkets
are estimated to contain one ingredient that is
derived from GMO crops?
A.
B.
C.
D.
50
60
70
80
Quiz
What is the most popular GMO crop cultivated
in the United States?
A.
B.
C.
D.
Corn
Soybeans
Cotton
Squash
GMO Seeds
Genetically modified crop seeds have only been
available since the mid-1990s.
To make such seeds, companies manipulate the
gene sequence in a plant’s DNA so that it has
special traits, such as the ability to tolerate a
specific weed killer while the plants around it die.
Companies can then patent these genetically
modified seeds, which gives them the legal right to
control the use of any seed that contains their
patented gene sequence. This situation has
changed agricultural practices and spurred
controversy.
Clip
• Watch the video clip “From Seed to the
Supermarket.”
• Take notes on concerns about genetically
modified seeds voiced by those in the film.
GM Products: Benefits and Controversies
Benefits
• Crops
Controversies
• Safety
–
–
–
–
–
Enhanced taste and quality
Reduced maturation time
Increased nutrients, yields, and stress tolerance
Improved resistance to disease, pests, and
•
herbicides
– New products and growing techniques
•
Environment
–
–
–
–
–
•
"Friendly" bioherbicides and bioinsecticides
Conservation of soil, water, and energy
Bioprocessing for forestry products
Better natural waste management
More efficient processing
–
Access and Intellectual Property
–
–
–
•
– Increased food security for growing populations•
•
Violation of natural organisms' intrinsic values
Tampering with nature by mixing genes among species
Objections to consuming animal genes in plants and
vice versa
Labeling
–
–
Not mandatory in some countries (e.g., United States)
Mixing GM crops with non-GM products confounds
labeling attempts
Society
–
U.S. Department of Energy Genome Programs
Domination of world food production by a few
companies
Increasing dependence on industrialized nations by
developing countries
Biopiracy, or foreign exploitation of natural resources
Ethics
–
–
–
Society
Potential human health impacts, including allergens,
transfer of antibiotic resistance markers, unknown
effects
Potential environmental impacts, including:
unintended transfer of transgenes through crosspollination, unknown effects on other organisms (e.g.,
soil microbes), and loss of flora and fauna biodiversity
New advances may be skewed to interests of rich
countries
http://genomics.energy.gov
GM Products: Benefits and Controversies
Let’s discuss:
• When companies have invested resources in
developing genetic material, should they have the
right to patent it? Why or why not?
• How might keeping seeds in the public domain
affect innovation in biotechnology?
• What would happen if genetically modified seeds
fail or become vulnerable to certain pests or crop
diseases? What is the relationship between
biodiversity and food security?
Assessment
• Review the list of benefits and controversies
of genetically modified seeds and select the
three most important factors related to their
use.
• Explain the significance of these factors in a
persuasive, five paragraph essay.

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