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Gen up on Genetics!

For use with Talking Point worksheets

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Gen up on Genetics!

Post by TalkingPoint » Sat Mar 20, 2004 8:48 pm

Gen up on Genetics!

Instructions: Read the text below to find the answers to the questions on your worksheet.

Apart from identical twins, nobody has the same DNA as anybody else although people who are closely related have similar DNA patterns. Two unrelated people could have similar DNA patterns but the chances of this happening are between hundreds of thousand to one and millions to one. The structure of DNA was discovered in 1953 by James Watson and Francis Crick in Cambridge, UK. The DNA molecular structure is made up of two spirals known as a double helix.

The History of Genetics
A Moravian monk called Gregor Johann Mendel (1822-1884) is known as the "father of genetics" due to his work with peas in which he demonstrated that dominant characteristics were passed from the parent to the offspring. From this discovery the science of genetic engineering grew.

GM (Genetically Modified) Food
In 1964, scientists genetically engineered a completely new type of rice which produced twice as much rice as the traditional kind. It could grow in difficult conditions so it was useful for farmers in developing countries. However, it created as many problems as it solved because the fertilizers and pesticides it needed allegedly contributed to water pollution and even soil erosion. In spite of such problems farmers are so keen to produce GM food that the global area of GM crops is 30 times bigger today than it was just six years ago. Some of the biggest producers of GM crops are Argentina, Canada and China. The United States of America is the largest global producer of GM crops.

Scientists hope that in the future it will be possible to genetically modify some fruit and vegetables so that they contain vaccines, medicines, lubricants and even fuel. Scientists have already developed a variety of rice which could help the 250 million people in the world who are in danger of going blind because there isn't enough vitamin A in their diet. The rice ("Golden Rice") contains a gene from a daffodil which produces vitamin A when eaten. Some say that GM food will benefit us all enormously, ending world hunger, making food better, reducing the amount of chemicals used in modern farming, bringing wealth to underdeveloped countries and giving customers a wider range of choice in the shops.

Have you ever needed to be in two places at once? In the film Multiplicity an overworked husband and father has himself cloned in order to do just that! But his clone has ideas of its own and things don't go according to plan...

Quick Quiz
Read the clues below and write the solutions on a piece of paper. Then take the first letter of each answer and rearrange them to find the hidden word connected with this Talking Point.
  • 1. Mendel's work was important because he demonstrated that dominant characteristics are passed from the parent to the _______________.

    2. In which town in Britain was the structure of DNA discovered?

    3. One of the problems of the new type of rice developed in 1964 was that it contributed to soil _______________.

    4. GM food in the future may contain vitamins, drugs, fuel and _______________.

    5. Apart from identical twins, _______________ has the same DNA as anybody else.
Talking Point Homework, © Liz Regan 2004

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