CBC Digital Archives

Lesson Plan: For Teachers: Assessing The Controversy

1 to 2 lessons
To obtain an understanding of the main arguments in the debate surrounding genetically modified foods
Students browse specific sites to obtain on overview of the controversy surrounding genetically modified foods.

Lesson Plan

Before Exploring

Review with the students the role of genes in defining the traits of living organisms. Ask the students to write a short paragraph describing what they think the difference is between genetically modified foods and foods created through traditional inter-breeding methods. Have students read out their answers. If the class is unaware of the difference then provide them with a short description of how gene-splicing works in contrast to standard breeding techniques.

Outline the Opportunity

Direct students to Genetically Modified Food: A Growing Debate on the CBC Digital Archives website. Each student is to view the clip "Identifying genetically modified products" and its written component. From this clip they will write definitions of the terms genetic engineering, transgenic, GMO, and Frankenfood.

Divide the following clips or groups of clips among the students:

"Identifying genetically modified products"  and "Introducing the Flavr Savr tomato,"

"The 'Flavr Savr' tomato", "Food fight", and "Behind the monarch media hype,"

"Is GM corn killing monarch butterflies", and "Government rejects bill for mandatory labeling of GM food,"

"Is regulation of GM food up to snuff?", "The perfect bowl of rice?", and "Duelling over GM wheat"

Each student is to summarize the clip(s) in terms of what aspects of the GMO controversy are being presented. They should also list and define any pertinent terms, and note the date of the clip and any dates mentioned in the clip.

Revisit and Reflect

Have the students do a short presentation to the class on the theme of their clip. The students can create handout summaries for the class or have the class take notes. The presentation must have a visual component (Bristol board, presentation software, overhead, chalkboard)


Students can create a summary chart using their notes from the presentations. They may create a time-based summary or summarize the different aspects of the topic in terms of pro and con arguments.

Related Content

Genetically Modified Food: A Growing Debate

Since the introduction of the first genetically modified food, the "Flavr Savr" tomato in 1994...