Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs)


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The role of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) in our food production has been an increasingly trending topic in current events. As further research

is conducted on the long-term effects of this technology, we are seeing increased protest from groups claiming this technology is “unnatural”, labeling

the products of GMOs “Frankenfoods”. Alternatively, the use of GMOs is promoted by an equally large group of supporters that insist that the scientific

research backs the reliability of genetically modified foods from a health standpoint, while providing significant advantages in addressing our

population and food shortage problems.

After reading the module notes and all supplemental materials, perform an internet search on Genetically Modified Organisms and their role in our food

production processes, keeping in mind the guidelines addressed in the Excelsior Library Information Literacy Tutorial on online research and appropriate

sourcing. Then respond to the following:
•Give a brief background on GMOs. What are they? What role do they play in our food production?
•What are the Benefits/Drawbacks?
•Do you think genetic modification experimentation is “unnatural” or interferes with the “balance of nature”?
•Some genetically modified (GM) traits can also be produced by conventional crop breeding. In such a case is the GM crop bad and the conventional one

•Why do you think the use of GMOs is still such a divisive topic?

Support your position using appropriate sources that are properly cited.


When discussing technology and the environment, the conversation can become heated. We have discussed the many advantages and benefits of technological

advancement, yet, there are negative consequences to technology as well. Most notably, the destruction of the natural environment resulting from the

introduction of industrial technologies is the main point of contention. Consider this: in the United States alone, approximately twenty-five percent of

the world’s resources are consumed, yet the U.S. has only about five percent of the world’s population!
This module introduces you to topics that may be controversial. Topics such as energy and the environment and medical technology require a lot of

discussion and are difficult to introduce without bias. It is important for each of you to accept, before responding to some of the discussions, that

we are all different individuals with our own opinions. Let’s do our best to support our discussions with facts.
The news today is filled with discussions of global warming and its relationship to human activity. If we were to review the short history of reports

from the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change), we would see a slow progression toward certainty. Early reports suggested that warming could

be occurring and that there was a chance that human industrial activity was related to the warming trends. This progressed through several reports,

culminating in the most recent (pre-scandal) report, which asserted that warming was occurring and it was one hundred percent certain that human

activity has increased the severity of the trends. There are many critics on every side of this debate; however, the data requires review, as the

process of warming itself is clearly evident, even more evident than in the last IPCC report. Currently, most of the debate has shifted to the cause,

rather than the presence of, warming.
How does this relate to technology? When you consider the Industrial Revolution, you see that methods of labor changed significantly from hand-produced

artisan work to mass-produced products made with machines, machines that were powered by easy access to cheap energy from available sources: Middle

Eastern oil and American coal. What little understanding we’ve demonstrated! While unrestricted use of fossil fuels exploded with the Industrial

Revolution, we made more goods than ever before available for more people, while at the same time permanently changing the environment in which we live.

Consider the scares of the past few decades: acid rain, global warming, smog-choked cities, dead lakes, and more. The availability of goods not only

increased the appetite for goods, but also enabled a population explosion, which boosted the demand further. After all, agriculture was industrialized

as well. Was it all worth it? It’s always a point to discuss. While we have permanently changed the world and ecosystems surrounding us, quality of

life and personal wealth are higher than they have ever been. Isn’t it likely that with a better understanding of the consequences, technological

solutions can be found?
Alongside monumental changes in industrialization, there have been great strides in medical treatments and biological improvements. There was a time

not long ago when low birth weight children (under five pounds) had a reduced chance of survival, and almost no newborn under three pounds survived.

That is not true today, as there are significant means available to ensure survival of these and even lower weight newborns. Another medical technology

discussion centers on the effects medicine and medical treatments have had on extending life. Our current social security system, for example, was

designed around an assumption that most potential recipients would not survive to an age to collect, a foregone conclusion today. Of course, even more

divisive are the trends in prenatal diagnosis and treatment, or even reproduction in itself. What are the limits? Should there be limits?
Food issues are not to be forgotten. Today there are large movements to get back to ‘natural’ foods. Much of the world’s grains today are from

genetically modified strains, which have allowed us to feed our population of more than seven billion people, a number projected to increase to over

eleven billion by 2050. Can we continue to feed this population with our current resources, or will new resources be required? Can natural foods

deliver the same quantities?
Now that you are familiar with the perhaps unintended consequences that come with technology, we are going to discuss the greatest environmental

threats. Think about your own actions when you review the material in this module. Do you contribute to the environmental threats, or do you take

action to prevent them?
Now that you are familiar with the perhaps unintended consequences that come with technology, we are going to discuss the greatest environmental

threats. Think about your own actions when you review the material in this module. Do you contribute to the environmental threats, or do you take

action to prevent them?



• Module Notes: Technological Change and The Environment (above)
• Huo, H., Lei, Y., Zhang, Q., Zhao, L., & He, K. (2012). China’s coke industry: Recent policies, technology shift, and implication for energy and

the environment. Energy Policy, 51, 397-404.
• Fedoroff, Nina. ‘Can We Trust Monsanto With Our Food?’. N.p., 2015. Web. 11 Sept. 2015.


• Module 3 PowerPoint [PPTX, File Size 169 MB]. This presentation includes both audio and a transcript of the audio.
• Design | e2: China—from red to green? [Video, File 25:58 Minutes]. (2006). In Films On Demand. (you can google this)
This video includes transcripts and is closed-captioned.
• TedTalks: Susan Solomon—the promise of research with stem cells [Video, File 14:54 Minutes]. (2012). In Films On Demand.
This video includes transcripts and is closed-captioned. (you can google this)

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Last Updated on April 25, 2020 by