from The Open University
Alternatively you can skip the navigation by pressing 'Enter'.
BBC Inside Science: Astronomy Q&A, CERN and ancient genomesThursday, 26th November 2015 16:30 - BBC Radio 4This week: Listener's questions on astronomy, CERN and the genomes of ancient farmers. Read more: BBC Inside Science: Astronomy Q&A, CERN and ancient genomes
BBC Inside Science: Astronomy Q&A, CERN and ancient genomesThursday, 26th November 2015 21:00 - BBC Radio 4
Catching History's Criminals: The Forensics Story: Traces Of GuiltSaturday, 28th November 2015 23:00 - BBC Four
The Hunt: Episode 4: Hunger at SeaSunday, 29th November 2015 16:50 - BBC One
Catching History's Criminals: The Forensics Story: Traces Of GuiltAvailable until Tuesday, 29th December 2015 00:00As Gabriel Weston discovers: every contact leaves a trace... Read more: Catching History's Criminals: The Forensics Story: Traces Of Guilt
All in the Mind: Mindfulness, porn addiction and slothfulnessAvailable for over a year
Power to the People: Episode 2: It's Not Easy Being GreenAvailable until Friday, 25th December 2015 04:00
The Hunt: Episode 2: In the Grip of the SeasonsAvailable until Friday, 25th December 2015 02:45
Talking turkey: 12 facts about turkey geneticsThe turkey is a fascinating bird - and demands more respect than a bit of stuffing and a spot of... Read more: Talking turkey: 12 facts about turkey genetics
OpenLearn Live: 26th November 2015Kilmachthomas, birthplace of a theatrical giant and site of a river which almost sank Cromwell.... Read more: OpenLearn Live: 26th November 2015
Social science and participationThis unit looks at how social science investigates participation, and uses this topic to look in... Try: Social science and participation now
English: skills for learningThis course is for anybody who is thinking of studying for a university degree and would like to... Try: English: skills for learning now
Social issues and GM crops
The genetic manipulation of plants and animals and their use in agriculture is one of...
The genetic manipulation of plants and animals and their use in agriculture is one of the most controversial scientific developments of recent times. This unt takes a look at the 'science behind the headlines' and the complex interactions between scientific and social factors. By the end of the unit it's hoped that you will have a clearer idea of both what is GM makes possible as well as what may be thought desirable.
By the end of this unit you should be able to:
- understand some of the social issues surrounding the development of GM crops;
- better understand some of the social issues surrounding the development of GM crops, especially those that are ethical in nature;
- better appreciated the disputed nature of the science that underpins GM crop development and how these relate to modern methods of assessing the safety of GM foods;
- explain how the public consultation exercise relating to the possible commercialisation of GM crops was conducted in the UK and the merits and drawbacks of that approach.
- Current section: Introduction
- Learning outcomes
- 1 Preamble
- 2 Concerns about GM crops
- 3 A key point in the controversy over GM crops: the Pusztai affair
- 4 Assessing the safety of GM food
- 5 Public views and the GM Nation? debate
- 6 Summary
Study this free course
Enrol to access the full course, get recognition for the skills you learn and track your progress. Make your learning visible!
Social issues and GM crops
This unit is an adapted extract from the course
In recent years, scientists have made huge gains in their understanding of how genes can be altered and transferred from one organism to another – but that knowledge has been acquired amidst controversy and concern. The deep ethical concerns that have resulted from the emergence of genetic manipulation are explored in this unit. We begin with an examination of the basic structure and function of genes. A number of pioneering examples and techniques are explored, helping to explain why our present-day view of genetic manipulation can combine feelings of optimism and unease. Examples are drawn from both plants (notably GM crops) and animals (including Dolly the sheep), with a special emphasis on the implications of promising medical techniques such as gene therapy. Our hope is that by exploring the science ‘behind the headlines’, and its interactions with the equally complex social factors, we will acquire a clearer idea of both what is possible and what may be desirable.
Note: This unit follows on from Gene manipulation in plants, and it is recommended that you study that unit before going on to read this one.
Copyright & revisions
Originally published: Friday, 3rd June 2011
- Creative-Commons: The Open University is proud to release this free course under a Creative Commons licence. However, any third-party materials featured within it are used with permission and are not ours to give away. These materials are not subject to the Creative Commons licence. See terms and conditions. Full details can be found in the Acknowledgements section.
- This site has Copy Reuse Tracking enabled - see our FAQs for more information.
If you enjoyed this, why not follow a feed to find out when we have new things like it? Choose an RSS feed from the list below. (Don't know what to do with RSS feeds?)
Remember, you can also make your own, personal feed by combining tags from around OpenLearn.