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Brassica oleracea Cultivars
Brassica oleracea Cultivars (Broccoli, Cabbage, Cauliflower, Sprouts)

Genetically Modified Food - What's the Gripe?/R.S. Callow

This course is available to interested societies and groups on request.

Introduction. Genetic modification of our food has aroused much public concern in recent times. This concern is fuelled by misrepresentation and ignorance of the processes involved. The course will address these issues, informing participants and equipping them with the means to arrive at their own informed judgements.

Course Outline. The aims of this course are to examine the modes of genetic modification and to explore the implications of genetically modified food for human society. Each session will begin with a presentation, describing the evidence and reasoning behind a scientific topic. It will be followed by a discussion of topical issues relevant to the talk. Your participation will be encouraged. We shall begin with an examination of the genetic material and its role in reproduction, inheritance and development. We shall then consider how this material has and may be modified and how the modification of our food has shaped human history and is likely to determine human survival. Talks will be supported by supplementary notes and by Power-Point presentations which will include graphical and textual evidence. Discussions will be informed by the talks, recommended books and supplementary notes issued in advance. Students will be encouraged to prepare for topics under debate, to form their own views and to discuss them with others. No specialist knowledge will be assumed.

        TOPICS                                                                                                           ISSUES

 1.    Sexual and Asexual reproduction                                                                Breeds, Cultivars and Clones
 2.    Cells and Chromosomes                                                                              Chemicals and Cancer
 3.    Chromosomes and Genes                                                                           Jumping Genes
 4.    Genes and DNA                                                                                            Mutants and Mutation
 5.    Genes and Development                                                                              Diet and Disease
 6.    The History of Genetic Modification                                                            Culture and Cultivation
 7.    Natural and Artificial Selection                                                                     Feast and Famine
 8.    Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology                                                    Nutritional Needs
 9.    Genetically Engineered Foods                                                                    Frankenstein Food
10.    Costs and Benefits of GE Foods                                                               Green Food

As a result of this course, it should be possible for you to:

1.    Understand the origin and causes of genetic variation;
2.    Appreciate the importance of agriculture in human history;
3.    Evaluate traditional and modern breeding methods;
4.    Assess the costs and benefits of genetically modified food.


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