Topic 1 — Biotechnology
Biotechnology is one of the fastest growing new industries in the developed world. The biotechnology industry will need highly-skilled people to work in it. This unit gives students the opportunity to study the contribution of biotechnology in the production of food and drink, and how this could impact on world food shortages, the treatment of disease and development of new medicines.
As with all new developments, advances in biotechnology raises new ethical questions which will be considered in this topic.
Guidance for students
Have you ever wondered?
Will scientists be able to make me a personalised medicine?
Who owns the medicine if the original plants come from a different country?
Are we able to cure genetic diseases?
Should you be allowed to choose the sex of your baby?
Is genetically modified food safe to eat?
Do genetically modified organisms harm the environment?
Can’t we already feed the world?
Should we be making developing countries buy new seeds every year?
• The food industry has traditionally made much use of biotechnology in the production of many food items, for example cheese, yoghurt, alcohol, chocolate, soy sauce and, more recently, mycoproteins and prebiotics.
• Plants can be modified to be resistant to herbicides and/or pests and this has environmental implications.
• The pharmaceutical industry generates a lot of money annually and consideration of the contributors to this profit and its distribution is needed.
• Stem cell research must consider many ethical questions, including the definition of ‘life’.
• Organisms can be genetically modified to produce substances, including medicines, that are of direct use to human health.
You will be expected to be able to recall, explain, describe and use appropriately the following words and phrases:
artemisinin fermentation insulin prebiotics bacteria filtration invertase quinine amino acid ethics herbicide pasteurisation biotechnology gelling agent lactic acid resistance breeding gene lactose salicin cholesterol genetic engineering malaria stem cells chymosin genetic modification microorganism taxol citric acid genome obesity toxin enzyme genomics oligosaccharide vector ester glutamic acid Parkinson’s disease yeast
Information for teachers
ICT is an integral part of the way science works, and students should be given opportunities to experience and explore its use. It is expected that ICT will be used where it enhances the learning and teaching of science and helps to make scientific concepts easier to understand.
Some of the learning outcomes have been written deliberately in order to promote discussion and expression of opinion. Where contentious, unresolved or other scientific issues are discussed, it is expected that students will be exposed to the facts, evidence and opinions from all sides of the argument.
Students will be assessed on their ability to:
• distinguish between and use primary and/or secondary data
• discuss and evaluate evidence and data
• consider ethical, contemporary and social issues.
At the end of this unit students will be able to describe and explain the following statements and carry out the tasks indicated:
Food and drink