Answer all of those questions.DATE:
TOPICS AND MAIN IDEAS
Part I Prepare to Read (2 points each, 4 points total)
Directions: Preview the article, “Making Food Better?” and write two questions that you think
will be answered in the reading.
Making Food Better?
In the past, our food usually came from nearby farms. However, over the last 100 years, food
production has become more and more industrialized. Food is produced all over the world and
shipped to different countries. As food production has become big business, the large fruit and
vegetable producers continually seek ways to ensure that their crops are successful. One of the
first technologies to improve crop success was the use of pesticides in order to kill insects that
attack plants. More recently, agribusiness has begun introducing genetically-engineered foods to
enhance food production. Genetically-engineered foods come from seeds that have had their
genes altered. This process has created a lot of controversy. Some say it is good because more
food is being produced; others say it is dangerous because we do not know what effects these
changes may have on the people who consume the genetically-engineered food:
1 Today’s grocery stores take pride in the ability to offer a wide selection of goods at
reasonable prices. A trip down the produce aisles in most food stores reveals a tremendous variety
of beautiful, gleaming fruits and vegetables. Many of these produce items are now available out of
season, or during times when they are not grown locally. Also, many of these fruits and vegetables
arrive at the store without any trace of bruises, discolorations or marks from bugs and other pests.
But this beauty and perfection in produce is not the result of nature. Instead, it is often the result of
pesticide use and, more recently, genetic engineering. If these techniques create more plentiful
crops with fewer flaws, then why are many people so alarmed over these types of methods,
particularly genetically engineered food, that they have organized major protests, boycotts, and, in
some cases, even destruction of crops? Are there health risks to human beings, the environment, or
to our food supply that result from genetically engineered food?
2 Genetic engineering in food production is relatively recent but is growing rapidly. Before 1995,
there were no crops planted with genetically engineered seeds. Now in the United States twenty
million acres of genetically engineered corn are produced each year. This accounts for twenty-
five percent of America’s corn crop. And other crops such as potatoes, squash, and tomatoes are
being engineered as well. Each year, more crops are added to this list, and it is possible that the
majority of the food available will soon be genetically engineered.
3 The primary process used to create genetically engineered foods is actually termed
transgenetic engineering. In transgenetic engineering, scientists use the genes from a completely
different species of bacteria, plant, animal, fish, or virus to insert into the food crop in question.
© 2013 Cengage Learning. All Rights Reserved. May not be copied, scanned, or duplicated, in whole or in part, except for use as permitted in a license distributed
with a certain product or service or otherwise on a password-protected website for classroom use.
In addition, an antibiotic resistant gene may be inserted. This type of specific crop manipulation
Cannot happen in nature on its own through cross pollination. It also surpasses anything a
botanist could do in his attempts to cross-breed through hybridization or the combining of two
There is much concern, however, about the effects of transgenetic engineering. Some
believe that the insertion of an antibiotic resistant gene may confer resistance to antibiotics in the
people who consume genetically-engineered food. This could create problems in the treatment of
illnesses later in their lives since they may be resistant to the drugs a doctor may prescribe to
help cure them. Also, there is concern about eating Bt corn, which uses a gene from a bacterium
to kill bugs that attack corn. Bt corn may be sold fresh or it may be used by companies who
produce products from breakfast cereal to frozen foods. In fact, a recent study indicated that
genetically engineered corn is not separated from regular corn in mills, so food produced now
contains a mixture of the two types. Some researchers fear that consuming the Bt bacterium
could have long-range effects, but other researchers have found that eating the corn in question
has not shown any harmful short-term effects in humans. Additionally, many scientists worry
that the practice of crossing species barriers as in the creation of Bt corn will result in the
evolution of super-viruses. These super-viruses could be more devastating to crops over time
because they will have developed an immunity to the chemicals used to protect plants from
harmful bacteria and pests.
5 The innovation of genetically engineered food has also caused much debate and
controversy world-wide. Companies like Monsanto in the United States and Novartis AG based
in Switzerland are two of the major forces in the research and manufacturing of these foods. The
president of Monsanto, Robert B. Shapiro, believes that what his company is doing is highly
beneficial and that this technology presents an opportunity to create a true nutritional science. He
is also convinced that without biotechnology, the world’s farmers would never be able to
produce enough food to meet the demands of a growing population. A spokesman for Monsanto,
Dan Verakis, says that the fear over genetically engineered food is the result of a hostile media
and aggressive activists. He also blames the European fear on the previous food poisoning scares
they have had in recent years, which include mad cow disease and e.coli outbreaks. However,
other organizations, such as Greenpeace, see this as merely a chance for Monsanto to make big
profits since the sales of genetically engineered seeds have risen to 1.5 billion dollars a year.
Those in opposition to genetic engineering also claim that the soil will be depleted, losing
nutrients much more quickly and there will be less fertile land as a result of using transgenetic
One of Monsanto’s products is called Round-Up Ready soybeans. It is engineered to be
able to withstand Round-Up, an herbicide (weed killer) also manufactured by Monsanto. The
British worry that use of Round-Up Ready soybeans will increase the level of chemical spraying
since the plants are resistant and that the toxicity of the chemicals will also increase. A U.S.
scientist, Charles Benbrook, states he has indisputable evidence that farmers using Round-Up
Ready soybeans are producing fewer-soybeans than farmers who are growing soybeans
conventionally. In 2001, mysterious DNA was found in Round-Up Ready soybeans by Belgian
scientists, calling into question the safety of the use of this product. In addition, the Journal of
Medicinal Food published a study by the Center for Ethics and Toxics that maintains Round-Up
Ready soybeans had up to 14 percent lower levels of photoestrogens, a naturally occurring agent
that is believed to protect against heart disease, osteoporosis, and breast cancer.
2013 Cengage Learning. All Rights Reserved. May not be copied, scanned, or duplicated, in whole or in part, except for use as permitted in a license distributed
with a certain product or service or otherwise on a password-protected website for classroom use.
7 The battle against genetically engineered foods has recently intensified. In England,
opposition to the use of genetically engineered crops is so strong there is a groundswell of
activity against the companies who produce these products as well as the farmers who grow the
crops. Geneticist and author of “Genetic Engineering” Dr. Mae-wan Ho says, “People here feel
that this is the last straw. If you destroy life itself, then there is nothing to regenerate the Earth.
People realize this and that is why they are so incensed.” Well-known British celebrities like
Paul McCartney and Prince Charles have spoken out against genetic engineering technology, and
supermarkets in Great Britain are removing items from their stores which have genetically-
engineered ingredients while food manufacturers are adopting genetically-engineered free food
policies. In the United States, there are also militant groups that are so alarmed by the spread of
genetically-engineered crops that they actually plan missions to destroy them. A group calling
themselves the Lodi Loppers destroyed a crop of Round-Up Ready corn near Lodi, California.
Genetically-engineered corn was also cut down in Old Town, Maine, by a group calling itself the
Seeds of Resistance. The activists believe that these crops provide no benefit to humans and are
only designed to make profits.
Part II Work With Words (2 points each, 10 points total)
Directions: Choose the best definition for the following words. The paragraph number is
provided in case you want to go back to the reading to check the context.
surpasses (par. 3)
C. creates another
d. has another
co é o
immunity (par. 4)
4. depleted (par. 6)
5. indisputable (par. 6)
Part III Check Your Understanding (2 points each, 10 points total)
Directions: Based on the reading “Making Food Better?” choose the best answer to the
following multiple choice questions.
1. Transgenetic engineering is
the production of blemish-free fruits and vegetables.
tlfe splicing of genes from different species into a food crop.
the process of marketing and distributing produce.
d. the use of pesticides and other chemicals in food production.
How is placing the DNA of Bacillus thuringiensis in corn beneficial to the
It makes the corn taste better.
It makes the crops look more pleasing.
It makes the plant resistant to bugs.
It makes the crops easier to pick.
Why are some people concerned about genetically engineered food?
Genetically engineered food will raise prices and many people won’t
be able to afford it.
b. It will reduce the amount of pesticides and chemicals used, forcing
people in these areas to lose their jobs.
Researchers don’t know the long-terms affects of eating this food
Scientists should not be involved in the production and
distribution of food.
Monsanto claims GE food is beneficial because
it allows them to produce enough food to meet the demands of the
it provides them with an opportunity to research and test new
chemicals and pesticides.
it allows their scientists to study the effects of genetically engineered
food on human consumers.
it creates a better relationship between companies such as Monsanto
and grocery stores.
نه ز منه
Why are some activists worried about Round-Up Ready soybeans?
They are worried that there will be an over-abundance of soybeans.
They are worried that many people will be allergic to the soybeans.
They are worried that Monsanto will create a soybean monopoly.
d They are worried this crop will cause an increase in the use of
Part IV Identify Topics (2 points each, 10 points total)
Directions: Refer to the paragraphs listed below and choose the best topic and main idea statement
for each one.
America’s corn crops
GE in food production
seeds and crop
2. Main Idea
Genetic engineering was not developed or used in food production
b. Since 1995, more and more crops have been produced by genetic
Corn crops are the only crops which have been sucessfully
produced using genetic engineering.
Only root crops such as potatoes are good candidates for genetic
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