Article summary



  1. Article Information

Articletitle: AreEngineered Foods Evil?

Articlesource: ScientificAmerica


Author:DavidH. Freedman

  1. Important Points:

  • A lot of naïve science has been pushing for genetic engineering.

  • Three decades ago, little was known about genetic engineering.

  • In an attempt to protect molecular biology interests, minority of biologists are opposed to genetic engineered foods.

  • Numerous researching funding originate from companies selling genetically modified seeds used in agriculture.

  • Thus, lead scientist keep quite about problems associated with genetically modified foods.

  • Some scientists argue that the benefits of genetically modified foods outweight the health risks.

  • Climate change and increased population would increase the demand for food in future, genetically modified foods provides an important option to stable food supply.

  • Use of genetically modified foods in agriculture is at infancy stage with only a tenth of the world cropland.

  • Fears associated with genetically modified foods dates back to 1970s, although selective breeding in agriculture is not a new idea.

  • In contrast to selective breeding, genetic modification involves inserting a gene from another organism genome to introduce desired characteristics.

  • Questions have been raised on whether altered genes have an impact on the human genetic makeup.

  • Proponents of genetically modified foods argue that people have consumed genetically engineered products for many years without health issues directly linked to it.

  • On the other hand, opponents have some scientific studies that highlight potential safety issues.

  • Some people have argued that opposition to genetically modified foods is political rather than scientific.

  • However, all concerns about health risks of genetically modified foods can not dismissed.

  • Publication of health risks of genetically modified products directly attacks the reputation of science.

  • Genetically modified products are inevitable, but there is a need for continuous testing and improvement on the safety of genetically modified foods.

Therehas been a political as well as scientific debate on the safety ofgenetically modified foods. There are several benefits as well ashealth risks that are associated with application of molecularbiology and genetic engineering in food production. With theincreased population and climate change, genetically modifiedproducts have been identified as the main technology that will feedthe future world. On the other hand, proponents have argued that thegenetic engineering will have an impact on the human genetic make upresulting into health risks.

  1. Reaction

Geneticallymodification remains one of the most contentious issues in modernscience. There are numerous benefits that are associated withgenetically modified organisms in regards to food production.However, genuine health risks and concerns have been raised.

  1. Relating to class

Thearticle looks at different applications of genetically modifiedproducts, especially in agriculture and how scientists have respondedto different issues associated with it.

Thearticle also looks at the controversies surrounding new technologiesand inventions, especially if they have a direct impact on humanlife.

  1. Discussion questions

Aregenetically modified foods safe for human consumption?

Dothe alleged risks overweight the benefits?

Whatneed to be done to increase the safety of genetically engineeredfoods?

Article summary



ArticleTitle:Species will live?

ArticleSource:Scientific American

Date:August 2012.

Author:Michelle Nijhuis


  • Although they are ignored by conservation groups, storm petrels are endangered species.

  • After deliberations, experts concluded that storm petrels are valuable, but not variable enough.

  • The value of the species value is determined by considering the ecosystem, economic and cultural importance.

  • Similar deliberations and choices occur among conservation groups and relevant groups.

  • When conservation groups budgets are shrink, the threat to endangered species increases.

  • Policy markers are more concerned with the national economy and are less concerned with the planet.

  • There is a need for triage in conservation.

  • Triage in conservation is borrowed from medical triage used by medics in the battlefields.

  • The Endangered Species Act of 1973 was because of generosity and not scarcity.

  • The act that protects non pest species is the most important conservation law in the world.

  • However, all specials are equal and should be protected and saved.

  • The hotspots concept was proposed by Norman Meyers and protects the ecology and genetic diversity by focusing on the entire ecosystem and endemic species.

  • Hotspot idea has an influence on decisions in modern conservations, despite being criticized for simplifying a complex global issue.

  • Setting priority overtly can result into increased funding of conservation efforts.

  • Species given low priority attracts actions from other conservation groups.

  • More venerable species are more expensive to conserve.

  • Conservation groups are more afraid of being responsible fateful decisions.

  • Triage can result into short term economic benefits while ignoring the long term conservation objectives.

Expertsconsider the ecosystem, economic and cultural importance of a speciesin determining the priority of conservation efforts. Due to limitedfinancial support from the government, there was a need for triagesystem. However, it is a controversial system in the modernconservation efforts. The hotspot system which focuses on both thefunction and evolution is one of the most applied systems in themodern conservation efforts.


Althoughtriage was criticized, it is not a simple idea. Other ideas such asMeyers idea was also based on triage system. Triage enablesconservation groups to take bigger risks and get more rewards byfocusing on species at higher risks.

Relatingto class

Thearticle talks about conservation of species that are endangered byhuman activities. It also talks about the challenges that are facedby conservation groups.


Decidingwhich species to save is an important decision conservation groupshave to make. Do you think triage system is still a good idea?

Thegovernment is more concerned about the economy that the planet andconservation. What need to be done to increase government commitmentto conservation?