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    Genetic Ancestry Worksheet.doc Genetic Ancestry Worksheet.doc Document Transcript

    • Genetically Modified Organisms-Exploring the science, politics, and economics behind GMOs ACTIVITY 1 --Choose a character to represent and read aloud during class. There are 2 articles you may choose from. High Tech Foods April 4, 2000 PAUL SOLMAN: In Iowa, a grain train lugs corn and soybeans to market. It looks innocent enough, but riding in those cars is the stuff of controversy, because nearly half of America's corn and soybeans are now genetically modified organisms-- GMOs. The GMO controversy pits Europe against the U.S., activists against agribusiness, skeptics like Greenpeace against corporations like Monsanto. And the controversy raises key questions as to how we as a society weigh the risks and benefits of new technology in general. Now, when you look back in history, it turns out we've been toying with plant genetics for quite a while. SPOKESMAN: In Adair County, Iowa, an energetic young high school student named Henry Agard Wallace accepts a challenge. PAUL SOLMAN: Already by the 1920s, budding agronomist Henry Wallace was mating different strains of corn to produce the best traits of both, crossing a high-yield plant with one that didn't need much water, say, to create a new high-yield breed for dry climates. Wallace himself went on to become secretary of agriculture, then FDR's vice president. Hybridization, rejected at first as a risky and radical agri-technology, became "the" standard way to improve crops. SPOKESMAN: Don't get poked in the eye. Plant breeding is unpredicatable
    • PAUL SOLMAN: Even today, though, plant breeding retains a certain sex appeal. At Pioneer Hi-Bred, the now-giant seed company that Wallace himself started, corn is still often created intimately. Pioneer's Andrew Waber showed us. That's the male part? ANDREW WABER: That's the male. We call it the tassel. PAUL SOLMAN: Tassel. ANDREW WABER: Within the tassel, it will actually shed pollen. This is what blows around in corn fields in Iowa. This is your female. This is the female receptacle, or as we call it, the silk. You simply just pour the pollen directly on that silk, and now you've created the pollination. PAUL SOLMAN: When different corn plants mate, the results are as unpredictable as with humans. Traits from each parent will pass to the offspring, but you never know which. The breakthrough of genetic modification is that the plant's DNA can now be manipulated in the lab, a huge leap forward, according to the company. PEG ARMONSTRONG-GUSTAFSON, Pioneer Hi-Bred: Instead of hoping that the random combination of all of the genes brings forth what you want, you can specifically go in and say, 'This is the part of the plant that I want to change,' and go in and specifically do that. Gene alteration worries some farmers, others PAUL SOLMAN: So where's the controversy? Well, for certain traits, genes from entirely different types of organisms are put into the plant's DNA. America's most common seed corn now boasts bacteria genes which trigger a toxin against corn's archenemy, the corn borer. It seems to work, looks just like the old corn, may even mean farmers can use less pesticide, but it's arguably a brand- new entity, a genetically modified organism, or GMO; and that has some folks worried. Nutrition consultant Sue Roberts: SUE ROBERTS, Dietician: The new genetic engineering is crossing species lines, and that is a completely different process than what we've been doing. PAUL SOLMAN: With GMOs, says Roberts, come unknowable dangers to our food.
    • SUE ROBERTS: One is toxins that the food might potentially produce; one is allergens that the food might potentially have; another issue is antibiotic resistance. Another one is just are there other potential viruses that could be harmful that can be formed from this process? PAUL SOLMAN: To skeptics, the key is not that GMOs have been proved to cause these dangers, but haven't been proved not to. They point to the fact that GMOs were fast-tracked by the Food & Drug Administration despite the misgivings of some FDA -- scientists. So the manufacturers do all the testing-- tests which may be rigorous, but not at the level required for new drugs or food additives. SUE ROBERTS: There haven't been enough studies done in humans; there haven't been enough done in animals, or whatever the progression should be to test these products like we would with a food additive or with a drug. PAUL SOLMAN: Farmer George Naylor is similarly skeptical about genetically modified organisms-- GMOs. GEORGE NAYLOR, Farmer: We live in a sea of corn and soybeans out here in Iowa, and we don't know what we're producing and we don't know the effects on the land, we don't know the effects on human health or the health of the animals that eat this feed. PAUL SOLMAN: In this age of agribusiness, Naylor's trying to maintain, with his wife and two boys, a family farm with family values. He raises non-GMO grain, and hopes to sell it at a premium to those who share his antipathy to agri-tech. But Naylor feels that farmers like himself are isolated, up against a corporate GMO juggernaut that threatens to lay waste to their plans. One of his fears: Contamination from GMO corn the next field over. GEORGE NAYLOR: As the pollen drifts from his field to my field, it's going to pollinate some of my corn, so that the genes from his crop will be transferred into my crop. PAUL SOLMAN: The point is, if a non-GMO were impregnated by a GMO, its purity, says Naylor, would be compromised. PAUL SOLMAN: So this is non-GMO corn? GEORGE NAYLOR: I hope it is. The only reason that it wouldn't be is
    • because either the seed was contaminated when I bought it, or my neighbor's pollen has pollinated some of my corn. PAUL SOLMAN: Even if he could vouch for his grain, however, Naylor would have another problem. He'd be hard-pressed to keep his corn separate from its GMO look-alikes. GEORGE NAYLOR: Now, this is where farmers bring their grain to store, and it was impossible to really segregate the GMO from the non- GMO grain this last year, so now it's just all blended together in here. PAUL SOLMAN: So you mean even though you're doing non-GMO grain, by the time it goes to market from here -- GEORGE NAYLOR: Right, it's the same. No, it's all the same. The consumer's going to get GMO grain whether they want it or not. PAUL SOLMAN: It's this lack of choice that's helped fuel the anti-GMO movement, especially in Europe and the UK, where there's widespread objection to America's so-called Frankenfoods, and Prime Minister Tony Blair's unwillingness to oppose them. Perhaps fearing similar protests at home, companies like Heinz, Frito-Lay, and Gerber have now promised they won't use GMOs to make their products. Agricultural Law Professor Neil Hamilton: NEIL HAMILTON, Drake University: Frito- Lay and Gerber and other people that may have made those same decisions are consumer companies, and they have made some type of calculation of two things: One, that there may be some concern on the part of consumers, or alternatively that the benefits of whatever this technology is don't inure it enough to them to take a bullet for it. Some say gene- altered foods have great benefits
    • PAUL SOLMAN: So what are the benefits of genetically modified organisms? Some say they're enormous: Cheap rice with enough Vitamin A built into it to cure blindness in the Third World; crops so productive we can feed millions more people without leveling the rain forest. Promises like these are what led Monsanto Chemical to transform itself into a life sciences agri-tech company in the early '90s. To investors, GMOs and agri-tech promised huge future returns, not unlike the Internet. Monsanto's stock soared. Money to nurture the new technology poured in. But then came the protest movement, charging that GMO corn, for instance, would lead to super weeds; would kill monarch butterflies. Monsanto CEO Robert Shapiro responded, as here to a Greenpeace conference in the late '90s. ROBERT SHAPIRO, Monsanto CEO (film): Now, we continue to believe in this technology. We think it can bring important benefits to people around the world, and we remain committed to developing good, safe, useful products. But we are no longer going to be engaged in a debate. PAUL SOLMAN: But opposition to Monsanto only grew. The company's stock sank. Agri-tech research and development slowed. To economist Dermot Hayes, it was an outrage. DERMOT HAYES, Iowa State University: Can you imagine how Bill Gates would feel if somebody had said that microchips cause cancer? And then the argument was we can't prove they don't cause cancer, so the stock of Microsoft collapses. Imagine how you would feel, especially if it wasn't true. PAUL SOLMAN: And you think that's how Bob Shapiro feels. DERMOT HAYES: I think that's how he should feel. He was doing something that was potentially of great advantage to the human race. Some arguments were made against the technologies; they were not based on science. The technology is now stalled, and the company, as a result, has fallen in value. Risks are easier to sell than benefits PAUL SOLMAN: So if genetic technology is so promising, why are opponents making as much headway as they are? Perhaps because
    • the first GMO products don't benefit the public so much as the industry itself. Take GMO soybeans called Roundup Ready, the patent for which is owned by Monsanto. They're designed to be used exclusively with the popular herbicide Roundup, also made by Monsanto. The company, says Neil Hamilton, went first for quick returns. NEIL HAMILTON: It shouldn't be any surprise that one of the main reasons that you would develop Roundup Ready technology for soybeans is so that you can sell more Roundup. PAUL SOLMAN: So when the industry promises higher-yielding plants that will feed the world's poor, critics respond, 'That's not what you're using GMOs for now.' Moreover, American farmers already produce more food than they can sell, as evidenced by this corn overflow we happened on in Beaver, Iowa. And GMOs are now actually hurting sales of American grain because Europeans don't want them. So to many consumers, the benefits of GMOs seem remote, while the risks of this unknown technology can be made to seem threatening. 'Remember nuclear power,' say critics. In the '50s, we were told that it was cheap and safe, the answer to our energy future. But today, we know how much we didn't know then. SUE ROBERTS: There's a quote that really captures my feeling about the issue of genetically engineered food, and that quote is, 'Nature is not only more complicated than we think, it is more complicated than we can think.' And we should err on the side of precaution rather than plowing ahead and putting those foods into our food supply until definitely the safety is proven. PAUL SOLMAN: Caution sounds reasonable. But years of study, say GMO proponents, will stall a technology that promises to feed the world. To Dermot Hayes, the benefits of GMOs dwarf the risks, but the risks are a lot easier to sell. DERMOT HAYES: The consumer in a store will give you about a second to make your case. And if somebody says, 'We can't prove that this food does not cause cancer,' you will not consume that food. And that's essentially what's happened in Ireland and the UK. People just won't -- they don't want this food, not
    • because they've looked into the science, but because they have heard something on the TV from some source that may or may not be good that there's something wrong with this food. PAUL SOLMAN: In other words, until the public can be persuaded of the benefits and safety of GMOs, this latest in a long line of new technologies may continue to meet resistance in the streets, on the stock market and on the shelves. RAY SUAREZ: On another front in the GMO controversy, a much- anticipated report on the adequacy of government regulation of genetically modified crops is due to be released tomorrow by a National Academies of Science committee Seeding the Future Aug. 12, 1999 TOM BEARDEN: Corn farmer Tim Hume is up to his ears in hope. After years of battling farm pests, Hume planted a new kind of corn this year, a genetically altered variety that actually kills invading insects. It's called BT corn. Scientists took a gene from a common soil bacteria called bacillus thuringiensis, and combined it with corn. The result is a sort of built-in pesticide. Hume says it's a godsend when it comes to fighting corn borers. The battle against insects TIM HUME, Farmer: The corn-borer insects, the damage can be amazing. It can be up to 70 bushels per acre, which is 40 percent of our yield in this area. TOM BEARDEN: The bioengineered seeds cost more but Hume hopes they will more than pay for themselves by resisting insects. TIM HUME: They're simply less scouting for insects. And we have to spend less money on
    • sprays that are costly. TOM BEARDEN: A lot of farmers have jumped on the bioengineered corn bandwagon because corn borers cost them more than $1 billion a year in lost yields. Although BT corn has only been on the market for three years, it's now growing on 20 million acres, a quarter of the entire U.S. corn crop. But critics of bioengineered food products are worried the new seeds threaten human health and the environment. The biggest outcry is in Europe, where protesters who want to halt U.S. imports dumped genetically altered seeds on government officials' doorsteps. British tabloids refer to the products as "frankenfood," and the European Union has refused entry of any new genetically-modified crops. Fueling much of the current debate is a study published last may in the journal "Nature." Researchers from Cornell University reported that BT corn pollen can kill not just pets but also the larvae of Monarch butterflies. John Losey was the lead author for the study. JOHN LOSEY, Cornell University: All of the caterpillars on the no-pollen treatment and all of the caterpillars on the regular-pollen treatment were still alive. Forty-four percent or almost half of the caterpillars feeding on the BT pollen treatment were dead. And those that weren't dead were significantly smaller. TOM BEARDEN: Monarch caterpillars feed exclusively on milkweed. JOHN LOSEY: This is milkweed with the pink flowers. And, if you notice, if you break off a leaf or a stem, it produces a latex sort of substance, and it looks like milk. And that's where it gets its name: milkweed. And what will happen -- when this corn grows up and sheds pollen -- is these milkweed right here on the edge, they are the ones that are going to get the highest dose of the pollen, and so the female monarchs will come in, and they will lay their eggs right on the bottom of leaves, and when the larvae hatch out, they'll start eating, and if it's been dusted with pollen, then they'll consume that and they'll get a dose. TOM BEARDEN: Losey says the risk to the butterflies is significant, because they breed mostly in U.S. corn belt states. But the industry says Losey's laboratory study doesn't reflect real life.
    • Val Giddings is a vice president of BIO, the Biotechnology Industry Organization. VAL GIDDINGS: The crucial thing to look at is would Monarch larvae in the wild be exposed to corn pollen, and if so, how much effect would there be? The corn pollen is only around for an extremely short period of time during the growing season, so the potential for exposure is extremely low. Therefore, the probability of a negative impact is commensurately low. TOM BEARDEN: Both the industry and Losey agree that more fieldwork is needed. Losey and his team are now measuring how pollen migrates from real cornfields, and what impact it has on Monarchs. JOHN LOSEY: That's one of the behaviors that we're looking for, when it sort of does that head bob thing. TOM BEARDEN: Because the Cornell study is the first evidence that pollen blowing from a genetically- modified plant can kill non-target insects, Losey says it should be seen as a heads-up for any bioengineering in the future. JOHN LOSEY: It's not just Monarchs. If you look above them on the food chain, there's a lot of animals like bats, birds, other insects that eat either the caterpillars or the butterflies and moths. And so, if you start really having an impact on these populations, it's going to ripple both up and down the food chain. And it's really hard to predict what impact that's going to have on the total ecosystem. So I guess why you should be concerned about the Monarch is that the Monarch is sort of like the canary in the mine. And if the Monarch is going to be impacted, we know other butterflies and moths are going to be impacted, and that could be a real problem for the ecosystem as a whole. TOM BEARDEN: Bioengineering critics also worry that genetically-modified crops could pose a threat to people, particularly those with uncommon allergies. Jane Rissler is with the Union of Concerned Scientists. JANE RISSLER: If someone were allergic to bananas, she wouldn't buy foods with bananas. But if a banana gene were transferred to tomatoes, let's say, to give a yellow color, and that tomato were not labeled or processed-- tomatoes were not labeled-- then she could
    • well get the protein from bananas, and she might be allergic to it. TOM BEARDEN: The FDA already requires that foods which contain a gene from a common allergen, like peanuts, to be labeled. The biotech community says agriculture is being unfairly singled out, even as other bioengineered products are highly praised. AL GIDDINGS: Some critics of biotechnology have argued that this takes man into realms best left to God and God alone, that it is unnatural to meddle with nature. But then they say that it's okay to use biotechnology for pharmaceutical applications. Well, you know, this starts out as a fundamental statement of principle but all of a sudden mutates into one which is flexible. And, you know, we can ignore it when it suits us. I mean, if you're opposed to biotechnology in food, on a matter of principle, then why are you not opposed to biotechnology in terms of pharmaceuticals? Are you going to tell a patient suffering from breast cancer that she cannot have access to Herceptin, or the breast cancer cystability diagnoses that biotechnology makes possible? There is a fundamental inconsistency here philosophically in the minds of those who find biotech in pharmaceuticals okay but not in agriculture. Consumer benefits? TOM BEARDEN: But Rissler says people with health problems are willing to take risks on bioengineered drugs. JANE RISSLER: In Ag-biotech, let's look at who's benefiting and who's taking the risk. Biotech companies are benefiting; some farmers are benefiting. Consumers are eating the food -- are they benefiting? Should they be asked to take any risk, if they are not getting any benefits? Whereas if I take a drug that might prevent breast cancer, I'm benefiting directly. TOM BEARDEN: But agriculture says consumer benefits are clear: Cheaper food crops that are much more friendly to the environment because they don't require pesticide to be sprayed. In fact, industry giants like Monsanto tout their DNA innovations as a green revolution. They've invested millions in gene splicing technologies for other crops like cotton and soybeans that also reduce the use of chemical pesticides. The huge expense of developing these new plants has started another argument, this time with farmers. Monsanto requires farmers who buy bioengineered seeds to sign a contract agreeing not to save seeds from their crops for replanting the following year. They say it's an intellectual property rights issue.
    • VAL GIDDINGS: It costs a good deal of money to develop these new products. Farmers can save seed every year, and what that means then is that for a company to invest a vast amount of research and development money into that, they would have to recoup all of their R&D costs from the first generation of seed sales. You know, and you just can't do that. You'd price yourself out of the market. TOM BEARDEN: Ohio farmers Dan and Roger Peters resent Monsanto's claim of ownership. The father and son operate a seed cleaning business. Farmers bring plants to them to extract the seeds for use the next year. It's an age-old farming practice. The Peters go so far as to say it's a right. DAN PETERS: Farmers have saved seed for years. And I mean, what the difference is, is -- I mean, a guy went out here and had a good field that yielded good - I can't save that for seed. I've got to haul it to town. I've got to go buy new. I mean golly, that's going to cost a lot of money. TOM BEARDEN: Monsanto asked the Peters and other cleaners to post signs warning legal action against farmers planning to reuse genetically modified seeds, and the company has hired investigators to sample crops, looking for violators. It has a hot line; it encourages people to call to report others, and has taken some farmers to court. But a private company's ability to patent a gene-modified plant is now being challenged in an Iowa Federal Appeals Court. The issue is bound to get even more contentious when Monsanto introduces a seed now in development. Called the "terminator seed," it becomes sterile after one harvest. JOHN LOSEY: So it definitely looks like they're eating less of the ones with pollen. TOM BEARDEN: Since the Cornell Butterfly Study, members of Congress have proposed increased funding for further research on bioengineered food crops. The industry has also pledged more money for further investigations.
    • GMO’s in practice ACTIVITY 2: First brainstorm on your own. After five minutes get into base groups and discuss your ideas for a brief poster presentation that EACH member must contribute either in construction or presentation. #1. Produce a list of the steps a biotechnologist would need to conduct in order to create a GMO. You could use corn or soybeans as a concrete example.
    • #2. Generate a list of the benefits and potential risks of GMO foods to farmers, consumers and the environment. They could place these into a simple table. GMO’s and Zamibia conflict Activity 3 Choose one of the news websites and read the article: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/africa/2376505.stm http://www.pbs.org/newshour/extra/features/july-dec02/zambia.html# Answer the following based on your internet reading: 1. Approximately how many people need food in Zambia? Why?
    • 2. What is genetically modified food? Why is it grown? 3. What do critics of GM foods believe? 4. Why has President Mwanawasa rejected the food aid? What are some of the concerns about GM food? 5. What does the EU believe? 6. What are other countries that are receiving GM corn doing with the food?