GMO Project: Are GMO’s the most effective, safe, and inexpensive means to provide food for over 7 billion people on Earth?

For hundreds of years, humans have selectively bred species.  Farmers selected crops with the best traits: tomatoes that were the most plump and full of flavor, lettuce with the largest leaves, flowers with the best color.  Broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, and kale all originated from a single form of wild mustard weed[1].   Additionally, humans helped to develop modern dog breeds by breeding those with the most desirable traits.  These are examples of selective breeding, a form of causing a species to change.  

Today, humans still can cause species to change, but on a far more advanced level.  With modern DNA technology humans have the capability to manipulate species on a genetic level.  Genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are species whose DNA has been modified by scientists to produce traits humans desire.  For example, the genetics of modern day corn has been highly modified.  By introducing traits such as resistance to insects (self creating pesticides), shorter growing cycles, and increased growth, corn is now a very abundant crop[2].  

Believe it or not, there is a significant chance you have consumed GMOs.  This raises many questions.  Should humans move genes between species?  Is eating GMOs safe?  Which foods contain GMOs?  These are all important questions, given that the number of GMOs has increased dramatically just in the last few years.

traits: characteristics of a living thing. EXAMPLE:  red or yellow roses, blue or brown eyes, blood types

selective breeding:  selecting individuals with the best traits and only allowing those to reproduce and make the next generation.

DNA: ‘stuff’ inside cells that determines who you are. These chemicals make a code and the order of the code is different for each living thing.

Genetically modified organisms (GMOs): Animals, plants, and bacteria that have DNA added or removed (sometimes from other species) to add or remove desirable traits.

TASK

You will develop an opinion on the use of GMOs (either for or against) and share your stance by writing a professional letter to a Tualatin representative in the Oregon State Legislature (Julie Parrish, House of Representatives and Richard Devlin, Oregon State Senate).  Your letter will also describe how genetic modification occurs. Using a specific GMO organism you will explain how the organism has been changed.  Your report will also detail the problem of food shortages and the use or disuse of GMOs to address this problem.  

ASSESSMENTS


[1] "Artificial Selection." Artificial Selection. N.p., n.d. Web. 24 Oct. 2013.

[2] "Bt-CORN: WHAT IT IS AND HOW IT WORKS." Bt-Corn: What It Is and How It Works. N.p., n.d. Web. 24 Oct. 2013.