Age group: 

Classroom unit


In this unit students look at the case for and against genetically modified plants in Australia. The IP concepts contained within this unit include plant breeder's rights and the benefit to society. For example, creating  genetically modified foods in feeding the world's growing population.

Learning Objectives

By the end of this unit students will be better able to:

  • understand the nature of arguments for and against GM crops
  • critically evaluate each case for and against genetically modified plants
  • develop an informed and balanced opinion on the issue
  • research the issue further

Curriculum Area/s: Biology, English

Year/s: Ages 12-16 (Secondary)


Duration: 1 x 45 minute lesson

Teacher Prep Time: 5 minutes

Materials required: Online, smart board or hard copies of Worksheets 1-4


1. Look at the conflicting attitudes on Worksheet 1. Discuss why there might be such a contrast in the two views, including the idea of self-interest or bias that might exist in the two organisations represented.

2. Look at Worksheet 2 on Plant Breeder's Rights. This will help students understand the argument about control of rights that they will come across.

3. Explain to students that Worksheet 3 is a way for them to summarise the case for and against GM crops, using a variety of headings to help them separate the different concerns. Students look at the randomly organised arguments on Worksheet 4, and note under each which of the categories on Worksheet 2 it best fits, and whether it is for or against GM technology. In this way students have to read each argument carefully to categorise it. The teacher could distribute the 37 points among the class, so that individual students only have a few points to look at. Each student can summarise the point being made, while the rest of the class completes their own summary page. In this way the task of reading all the arguments is not a great one, but every students gets to hear every argument.

4. Students can be asked to present an overall response, or may be set the task of researching one aspect of the arguments (such as health) further.

5. Some useful general discussion questions at the end are:

  • Why are opinions so divided?
  • Are organisations that have a vested interest in the result (whether in support or against) reliable?
  • Why would scientific evidence not be clear?
  • Do the benefits of GM crops outweigh the risks?
  • How will we know when we know if GM is safe or not?
worksheet_1-_what_is_the_issue.pdf PDF in PDF format [210.9 KB]210.9 KB
worksheet_2-_plant_breeders_rights_and_genes.pdf PDF in PDF format [208.37 KB]208.37 KB
worksheet_3-_arguments_summary_table.pdf PDF in PDF format [170.58 KB]170.58 KB
worksheet_4-_arguments_for_and_against_genetically_modified_plants.pdf PDF in PDF format [367.66 KB]367.66 KB
Last updated: 
Saturday, November 23, 2013