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Classroom Resources: Genetically Modified Conservation

Genetically Modified Conservation

By Erik Vance

July – September 2010 / Vol. 11 No. 3

Read the article

Discussion Questions

  1. What was the Green Revolution created by Norman Borlaug, and why did he launch it?  What are its characteristics?
  2. What is Pam Ronald’s vision of a new Green Revolution? How does it differ from the program launched by Borlaug?
  3. According to Ronald, what currently motivates the choices being made for which crops industries develop genetically modified (GM) alternatives?  Why does she feel that this motive is insufficient or shortsighted?  What does she propose as an alternative?
  4. Contrast the methods used for making traditional hybrid crops (such as what Ronald and her colleagues did with “submergible rice”) and GM crops?
  5. What objections to GM crops are raised in the article?  What responses might Ronald give to those objections? What might Doug Gurian-Sherman of the Union of Concerned Scientists reply to those responses?

Websites for Further Information

Genetically Modified Organisms and Agriculture in the News

  • In the fields of Italy, a conflict over corn (New York Times, August 23, 2010):
  • U.N. raises concerns as global food prices jump (New York Times, September 3, 2007):
  • India asks, should food be a right of the poor? (New York Times, August 8, 2010):

Peer-reviewed Literature (in addition to the citations listed in the article)

  • Aerni, P. 2005. Stakeholder attitudes towards the risks and benefits of genetically modified crops in South Africa.  Environmental Science and Policy 8:464-476.
  • Bartz, R., U. Heink, and I. Kowarik. 2010. Proposed definition of environmental damage illustrated by the cases of genetically modified crops and invasive species. Conservation Biology 24:675-681.
  • Glover, D. 2010. The corporate shaping of GM crops as a technology for the poor. Journal of Peasant Studies 37:67-90.

Key Concepts

  • Green Revolution
  • Genetically modified organisms
  • Agriculture
  • Genetics
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