Torn at the Genes
One Family's Debate Over Genetically Altered Plants
School of Medicine
University at Buffalo
Department of Biological Sciences
University at Buffalo
The setting for this case is the family dinner table, where a heated discussion about genetically altered foods is taking place. Marsha Cumberland’s brother-in-law has joined the family for dinner. Ed is an industry official whose job it is to decide whether or not new products need pre-market approval by the FDA. He has just returned from a conference on transgenic foods. When it turns out that some of the food on the dinner table is genetically modified, a debate ensues with different members of the family at different ends of the spectrum. Written for an introductory biology course, the case considers the scientific and ethical issues of genetically altered plants.
- To examine the techniques used to transfer genes from one organism to another.
- To consider the benefits as well as the costs of genetic engineering.
- To examine the potential ecological consequences of genetic engineering of crops and
- To discuss the ethical arguments involved in the manipulation of DNA in organisms and the issue of labeling genetically modified food.
- To consider the possible evolution of resistance in bacteria and insects due to genetically engineered foods.
- To consider possible health issues associated with genetically modified foods, including allergies and antibiotic resistance.
KeywordsGenetic engineering; genetically modified food; genetically modified organism; GMO; transgenic crops; agricultural biotechnology; plant genetics; food production; Food & Drug Administration; FDA
Educational LevelHigh school, Undergraduate lower division
Type MethodsDebate, Dilemma/Decision, Discussion, Role-Play
Subject HeadingsBiotechnology Agriculture Botany / Plant Science Genetics / Heredity
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