Thursday, December 16, 2010

Should we Grow GM Crops?

1. What is a GM Crops? GM crops ."GM crops are genetically modified. GM is a special set of technologies that alter the genetic makeup of organisms such as animals, plants, or bacteria." The food as a specific change in their DNA.

2. List 2 arguments FOR the growing of GM crops

GM foods can offer up many health benefits. GM food/crops have a longer live on the shelf and it will leave traditional crops "in the dust." "They will be better for us, with some products already in the works benefiting our waistlines (low-calorie sugar beets and oils with lower saturated fat content, for example) and others bearing higher nutritional content (high-fiber corn and high-starch potatoes). And they will be safer to eat." The food as a lower percentage of toxins, pesticides, and herbicides. The GM food will also be great benefits for the poor people of the world. Malnutrition is a grave problem in many countries. In a matter of time, the GM factories will "serve as environmentally friendly 'factories' that mass-produce useful substances such as pharmaceuticals." Scientists are currently testing ways to put vaccines into the crops because vaccines are costly to manufacture and there is little storage place for them in newly developing countries. These "tasty" vaccines, researchers and developers say, will be easier to administer, manufacture, and store. GM patrons also insist that farmers will reap great benefits from the biodiversity. Insects have become a problem to some farmers. The crops will can immune to the pesky little bugs and can "ignore" them. GM advocates can actually benefit the environment. "In the U.S. alone, farmers spray, spread, and otherwise administer more than 970 million tons of insect- and plant-killers every year. These pose threats to the environment. Pesticide residues linger on crops and in soil, find their way into the guts of wildlife that eat contaminated foliage, and leach into groundwater and wash into streams." The farmers will use fewer chemicals with the genetically modified crops. Scientists say that they can "naturally" modify the crops. In the natural world, plants and animals modify themselves.

3. List 2 arguments AGAINST the growing of GM crops.

GM foods can be extremely hazardous and pose health risks to children and adults alike. There are common allergies to peanuts and other foods. The genetically modified foods can bring up new allergies, which can be extremely fatal to humans. "Another potential hazard to human health is the possibility that bacteria in our guts could pick up antibiotic-resistance genes found in many GM foodstuffs." The GM crops can also hurt small business farmers. GM crops will be too expensive for poor farmers in developing countries. There is also a factor that the GM crops could cause environmental issues and harm. The GM crops, are feared, to also hinger the animal kingdom, especially if the organism eats the crops that are genetically modified. Annoying bugs, like the mosquito, can adapt and become tolerant to the pesticides. It is also going against what people have believed about the natural world. They feel like the genetically modified organisms are going against nature's natural ways.

Engineer a Crop

4. Practice this simulation until you get the largest ears of corn. How many times did it take you?

I only needed to do the simulation 1 time, before I was able to get the largest ear of corn.

What’s for Dinner?

*Click on the foods on the table to see what research is being done to bioenginner the foods.

5. List two foods and desribe how they are being modified.

Rice: One of the foods, that is a main ingredient for sushi, that is genetically modified, is rice. Rice is one of the three main crops that scientists have really emphasized on. Researchers have conducted many experiments, testing the different levels of starch, pest resistance, and "edible nutrition," which is genetically adding vitamins and minerals that are not naturally present.

Fruit: There is a variety of fruit that researchers are testing and researching all of the fruits listed strawberries, melons, pears, grapefruit, apples, watermelons, and many others.


*Read the article titled “Are GM Food Sufficiently Regulated in the US?”

Do you think food should be labeled if it has been genetically modified? Why or Why not?

I think that foods should be labeled if it has been genetically modified because the consumers have the right to know what they are eating. Wouldn't you want to know what you were putting inside your body? Also, people could have a severe allergy to one or more of the products used to genetically modify the food. By just telling the consumers, it will save the company the process of not telling and something negative happened to one of the consumers. Now a days, companies are not very honest about what they put inside their product. With the whole Mattel shindig, I feel that it is necessary for the company to trust come clean. If they are just straight forward, then they will not lose buyers because of the scandals that will come with not being truthful. If the company does not want to tell the consumers what chemicals (etc) are in their product, (because they are scare that not enough money would be made) should they even put it in there? If they do not want to tell their buyers? Is it really worth it?

Finished? Go to and type

Finished? Go to and type "genetic engineering" in the search field. Browse some of the sites that pop up.

Write down any of the sites you visited below.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Epigenetics and Environment

Insights from Identical Twins:

Because both of the twins come from the same zygote, then they will have the same genome. Nature and Nurture are part of the influence. Studying twins are a key and helpful way to understand nature and nurture.

1. Often the physical characteristics of genetically identical twins become increasingly different as they age, even at a molecular level. Explain why this is so.
The video was reflecting on the fact that the environment that the person in under the influence of is key to their epigenome. The video was talking about how identical twins are very similar at birth, but other time, they become more unique as an individual. It showed the process that with age and time, the twins epigenome became different from one another. Different factors can influence the twin's epigenome. The habits that the twin has will also differentiate the two individuals. Habits like smoking or exercising will affect the epigenome of the particular person.

Name 3-4 environmental factors that influence the epigenome.
One of the factors would be smoking or being around smokers. Second hand smoking an smoking can severe negative impact the epigenome. Daily exercise and working out is positive factor. The person will become more fit and healthier when they incorporate exercise into their daily routine. Another one that can have a positive and negative influence is food. The food that they consume is a huge factor. We obviously need food to survive, but the food choices are important. Whether you choose to eat healthy (vegetables, fruits, whole grains, organic, etc.) or "junky" (sugars, fatty foods, McDonalds, fast foods joints) is your decision. Probably the most important is the household that you are grew/growing in. Parents actions have a big influence on who you are. Whether your parents are carefree and fun or uptight and strict, it will affect your personality and epigenome. House and school stress can also impact your epigenome.

What is an imprinting gene?
"Imprinted genes are genes whose expression is determined by the parent that contributed them."

Discuss factors in your daily life that could be affecting your epigenome.

One of the most influential factors is school related stress. There always seems like there are endless amounts of homework, tests, quizzes, and projects to keep me stressed. There is always something school-related that I can be working on. My parents are very healthy eaters, so my diet consists of fruits, vegetables, organic foods, and other healthy items. My parents always open me to try new foods and different styles of food. We hardly eat junk food. I have somehow found a way to incorporate daily exercise. I sometimes take 20 to 30 minutes to run 2-3 miles when my parents are training for their marathon. I have soccer practices for 2 hours, two times a week, and a game every weekend.

Lick your Rats:

1. Explain how a high-nurturing mother rat shapes her pup's epigenome, and what that

pup's response to stress will be.

In the hippocampus of the brain, one of its jobs is to relieve stress. Depending how much the pup was nurtured will affect how much of the GR protein is produced; the more the better. During the fight or flight The brain produces the hormone cortisol which is put into the blood stream. When connected/bind to the GR protein, which will cause the cell to send out calming signals. The more nurture the rat has from its mother, the quicker the pup will recover from the stress.

2. In rats, does licking by the mother activate, or deactivate her pup's GR gene?

The mother's licking will activate the pup's GR gene.

3. Explain how cortisol and the GR protein work together in the brain to relax a rat pup.

You may draw a diagram.

Depending how much the pup was nurtured will affect how much of the GR protein is produced; the more the better. The more of the GP protein is created, the quicker the pup will be able to release stress. During the fight or flight The brain produces the hormone cortisol which is put into the blood stream. When connected/bind to the GR protein, which will cause the cell to send out calming signals. The more nurture the rat has from its mother, the quicker the pup will recover from the stress.

4. The rat nurturing example shows us how parental behavior can shape the behavior of

their offspring on a biochemical level. Relate this to humans and think about the personal

and social implications. Record your thoughts.

The love that is shown to a child can be the grooming of the rat. The more love, affection, and praise, the child grows up on will make them have a more friendly personality. The amount of affection showed can also affect the person's personality.


1. Explain how the food we eat affects gene expression.

"Familiar nutrients like folic acid, B vitamins and SAM-e (S-Adenosyl methionine, a popular over-the-counter supplement) are key components of this methyl-making pathway. Diets high in these methyl-donating nutrients can rapidly alter gene expression, especially during early development when the epigenome is first being established."

2. Can the diets of parents affect their offspring's epigenome?

Yes. When a mother consumes food, she is "feeding two." The food that the mother eats when you are in the womb is extremely important. What your mother eats during pregnancy will affect you throughout your entire. The father of the child has a part of the epigenome. How much the grandfather ate between the ages of nine and twelve can affect the lifespan on his grandchildren. "Shortage of food for the grandfather was associated with extended lifespan of his grandchildren. Food abundance, on the other hand, was associated with a greatly shortened lifespan of the grandchildren." I read this article that was talking about the link from the mother to the child. The foods that the mother eats are more likely to attract the child in the later life, with the tastes/flavors and smells. The article was also talking about the influence of alcohol. Mothers, consuming alcohol, can have children may be more attracted to alcohol because the developing fetus 'expects' that whatever comes from the mother must be safe." The more healthier the mother eats, the more attracted the child is to healthier.


1. How does Dietary methyl influence gene expression?

Basically, The Dietary Methyl influence gene is expression when you have a certain amount of methyl that your body will retain from the nutrients in your food. This food needs to be able to make you healthy. You have a significantly higher chance of becoming obese if you have a methyl-deficient diet.

2. Why do Toxins affect gene methylation?

The toxins affect the gene methylation by ruining your health. Different chemicals can have different affects. Take the chemical BPA for instance. BPA can cause endocrine problems like obesity, stunted growth, and birth defects.