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All That Glitters May Not Be Gold
In this decision case, a congressional staffer must weigh a number of competing concerns and issues, including popular reactions to genetically modified organisms, in deciding how to present information to her boss, an influential congressman drafting legislation to support agricultural research....

Butterflies in the Stomach
Why is the North American population of monarch butterflies declining? In 1999, a study published in the journal Nature suggested that a variety of genetically modified corn was killing these iconic butterflies. While it was later shown that the conditions in this study did not mirror th...

Do You Really Know What You're Eating?
Starting from a fictional “news” report about an apparent allergic reaction to a taco tainted by genetically modified corn, students consider some of the techniques and procedures used in modern molecular genetics and microbiology as well as some of the issues associated with genetica...

Experimental Design and Statistical Analysis
This case is based on a research paper about the lignin content of genetically modified corn published in the American Journal of Botany. Students are asked to analyze and discuss the paper, focusing on questions related to experimental design and interpretation and a critique of the sta...

Frankenfoods?
This discussion case, in which a university research laboratory is vandalized by environmental activists opposed to genetic engineering, focuses on the science and ethics of genetically modified crops. Students consider both the risks and benefits of biotechnology and explore the positions of var...

Glowing Plants on Kickstarter
This case study is centered on a real scenario from 2013 in which the Kickstarter fundraising platform included a fundraising proposal from a group wanting to use synthetic biology to make glowing plants. The proposal raised controversy because the Glowing Plant group offered to give away their g...

Golden Rice
In this intimate debate case, students consider whether to support the development and use of Golden Rice as a means to alleviate vitamin A deficiency in the developing world. Since many of the arguments typically raised against genetically modified organisms (GMOs) do not apply to this particula...

Snow White Apples?
The protagonist of this two-day flipped case study, “Maria,” has two problems. She doesn’t like it when the apple slices in her lunch turn brown, and she needs to find a project for her biology class that includes molecular biology, preferably one that incorporates plants. Stude...

The Canadian Canola Controversy
This case study reviews a controversial court case that took place in Canada in 2002 concerning an allegation of patent infringement and a genetically modified (GM) canola crop. The multi-national company Monsanto, which produces GM canola seeds called Roundup Ready®, sued Saskatchewan farmer...

The Case of the Tainted Taco Shells: Advanced Edition
This case discusses some of the issues associated with the use of genetically modified plants, including ecological risks, resistance, and allergenicity. The case has two versions, or editions.  The "General Edition," also published on this site, emphasizes the basic biochemistry and scienti...

The Case of the Tainted Taco Shells: General Edition
This case discusses some of the issues associated with the use of genetically modified plants, including ecological risks, resistance, and allergenicity. The case has two versions, or editions.  This edition (the "General Edition") emphasizes the basic biochemistry and scientific ethics issu...

Torn at the Genes
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-mar...

Tougher Plants
This "clicker case" follows two recent college graduates as they look for scientific answers to explain why the plants on their new tomato farm are not doing well. Working with their agricultural extension agent, they explore the scientific literature and learn how cold, heat, and salt can stress...