this lesson with the idea that we do not live in isolation.
Political decisions made in one part of the world have
a ripple effect over the planet just as scientific advancements
in one country can impact the entire Earth. The materials
which the students have been studying in science and
social studies so far this year and will continue to
examine this quarter are not only inter-connected, but
are often in the news NOW. These topics/issues are being
hotly contested, affecting public policy, GNP’s,
and sometimes threatening trade wars. Let the students
know that they will be looking for newspaper, magazine,
and Internet articles dealing with the topics studied
in the youth voices unit to see what is being presented
to the public and what is being discussed in the public
2. Read, with your students, the attached article, “Africa Bites the
Bullet on Genetically Modified Food Aid” by Meron Tesfa Michael that
was published on September 26, 2002 on the World Press Review Online website.
It is about genetically modified (GM) foods being offered to Africa to avert
a famine (You may substitute any equally relevant article of your choosing
and this lesson’s activities will still work.) Then break the students
into groups of three and ask them to:
i) Write a brief (3-5 sentences) summary of the
ii) Pick out ten things that they learned about the
situation reported on in the article;
iii) Briefly state the two opposing positions, and who holds these positions,
as reported on in the article.
Let the students know that they will be responsible this quarter
for finding one article such as this one, orally presenting the
above information to the class, and handing in to you a written
version of the oral presentation. The article must deal with a
country being studied in social studies and/or a topic being discussed
in science. The purpose of sharing the article with the class is
to make connections between what is being learned in the classroom
in the youth voices unit with what is currently happening in the
world. What students are studying at school is a tool to help them
understand the complex situations that exist in our world today.
As a class go over the answers to questions #1,
#2, and #3. Point out that this is the type of
high quality article each student is expected to
present because it:
i) concerns a country being examined in the overall
ii) deals with a topic being studied in science;
iii) contains a significant amount of information
that reports about the topic in depth.
A suggestion is to offer bonus points to those students
who bring in a second and/or third article for other
students, who have difficulty with this assignment,
to the students about how different the viewpoints between
proponents and opponents of GM foods are. Then
ask the students to work in their previous groups of three
again to complete the following activities, once again using “Africa
Bites the Bullet on Genetically Modified Food Aid” by
Meron Tesfa Michael that was published on September 26, 2002
on the World Press Review Online website.
1) Looking at the third to last paragraph in the article
(“Africa Bites the Bullet on Genetically Modified Food
Aid”), write down words and phrases that show Jason
Lott’s support of GM foods and ones that criticize
those who oppose these crops.
Lott uses purposefully negative language and imagery to
those who oppose GM foods in a bad light. Using information
in the article, what might Charles Chabala say in response
to Lott’s remarks? (Use the quoted remarks of Charles
Chabala in paragraph 15 as a starting point.) Charles Chabala
raises serious concerns about the safety of GM foods and
does so from the standpoint of someone who is African. What
logical arguments could he make? What words and phrases could
he use to highlight the negative aspects of GM foods/crops?
Once again go over the answers of each group as a class.
When you compare and contrast opposing viewpoints on an
issue, it is not just what facts and statistics a person
uses to create his or her argument, but how things are stated
that often make lasting impressions and influence how people
see a situation. People can often discredit their opponents
by portraying them as ignorant, short-sighted, or racist
and by presenting only those facts that, of course, support
one side of the controversy.
class is fired up by this debate you can look at the full
written by Jason Lotte entitle “Thwarting
Famine” published online at http://flakmag.com/opinion/famine.html
viewpoint, which is presented in greater detail, can be
found in the
article “Zambian Leader Defends
Ban on Genetically Altered Foods” by Henri E. Cauvin,
published online at nytimes.com on September 4, 2002.