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Choosing Healthy Foods

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Fishy Tomatoes?
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Fishy Tomatoes?

Arabidopsis was the first plant to have its whole genome sequenced. It is a model species for plant biology in general, and the study of how genes work, and how they can be moved between organisms specifically.

Frankenfood?

Frankenfood? How cool is that? Almost as good as zombie biscuits. But not everyone loves zombies or monsters, and to many people, "Frankenfood" isn't a cool marketing gimmick, it's a serious cause for concern. What's Frankenfood? Frankenfood is what some people call GMO foods. What's that? Well, GMO stands for "Genetically Modified Organisms", and in this case, it means researchers have moved genes from one organism to another (transgenic is another word you may come across associated with these organisms). Does moving genes between organisms sound strange to you? Well, you are not alone, and that is why some people call GMOs "Frankenfood", even though not all of them are eaten.

Extension Investigation

Use the resources below to answer the following questions:

  1. Why did researchers want to place a flounder gene in a tomato plant? Were they successful? What did this research lead to?
  2. What are BT crops? What happened to people in the Philippines who were living near BT crops? Considering the different life cycles of different plants, do you think BT will behave this way in all plants? Why or why not?
  3. What modification did Monsanto make to corn plants to make them pesticide-resistant? What microorganisms did they use to accomplish this change?
  4. Do you think there may be different effects on ecosystems by modifying plants to resist natural environmental variation (i.e. a frost-resistant tomato) versus man-made environmental variation (i.e. a pesticide-resistant corn)? Why or why not? Explain your thinking as fully as possible.

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