GMFs : Golden Rice or Frankenfood?

By: Kirstin Bittel and Rachel Hughes

Time: 2 class periods (one for pros, one for cons)
Preparation Time: 5 minutes copying position papers
5 minutes reserving computer lab

During this lesson students will apply ideas discussed throughout the quarter and jigsaw readings to make a position statement about GMO’s

Students will be able to:-
1. Use background material from classes and outside material to make a position statement about GMOs.

National Science Education Standards
Content Area C – The Interdependence of Organisms
Human beings live within the world's ecosystems. Increasingly, humans modify ecosystems as a result of population growth, technology, and consumption. Human destruction of habitats through direct harvesting, pollution, atmospheric changes, and other factors are threatening current global stability, and if not addressed, ecosystems will be irreversibly affected.

Teacher Background

The debate about Genetically Modified foods is a hot one. It is most beneficial if the teacher can act as an unbiased party during these days.

Related Websites




(Day One - What benefits can we reap as a result of GMOs?)
(Day Two - What are the potential problems GMOs may cause?)

1. Tell students, “Over the past quarter you have spent a lot of time studying plants biology and genetics. The time has come to take your newfound knowledge and apply it to a variety of readings. Your goal over the next two days is to use scientific facts to make an informed decision about GMOs. Are GMOs a good idea or bad idea? Today we will be looking for facts that support the idea that GMOs are a good idea. Tomorrow you will be looking for facts that support the idea that GMOs are a bad idea. As a group you will read a variety of opinion papers on GMOs. You will jigsaw your findings during the last half of each period. Be sure to give unbiased reports to your group. Your job as a scientist is to research the topic looking for only facts. Please keep a record of your learning in your science notebook.”

2. At this point, pass out the position papers so that each member of the group has an equivalent amount of reading.

3. Allow students 15-20 minutes to read their position papers and take notes independently.

4. Bring the groups together so that individuals can report back to their group members. Each group member should take 3-5 minutes to share their findings with their group members. As students report on their findings, they should share the source of their information.

5. Once students have the information from all group members, have them read over their notes and select the facts that they believe to be the most important and relevant.

Day One: Find 2-3 more facts that support the idea that GMFs are a good idea. Find 2-3 facts that support the idea that GMFs are a bad idea.

Day Two: Make an informed decision. In the conclusion of your science notebook, explain weather you are in favor of GMFs or against them. Explain why in detail. Use evidence from your classroom experiences and readings over the last 2 days.

Embedded Assessment

This is an opportunity to evaluate students’ ability to work in groups and share unbiased information. As you walk through the room, check to see that students are sharing facts, not opinions. Also check to see that students are making the connection between the interrelationship of plants and humans.


PULSE is a project of the Community Outreach and Education Program of the Southwest Environmental Health Sciences Center and is funded by:

NIH/NCRR award #16260-01A1
The Community Outreach and Education Program is part of the Southwest Environmental Health Sciences Center: an NIEHS Award


Supported by NIEHS grant # ES06694

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Last update: November 10, 2009
  Page Content: Rachel Hughes
Web Master: Travis Biazo