I teach second grade at Nathan Hale School in New Haven, Connecticut. My second grade classroom is composed of a diverse, multicultural community of learners that encompass a wide spectrum of achievements, interests, learning and social needs. As mentors and role models for children it is extremely important that we not only teach academics but help students understand who they are and why certain things happen to them.
This unit will focus on genetically modified organisms or 'GMOs' and their affects on human health and the environment. Genetically modified organisms are making headlines. More and more, as consumers we are purchasing and eating foods that contain food that has been genetically altered or contains ingredients that have been modified without knowing it. GMOs are plants or animals that have been genetically engineered with DNA from bacteria, viruses or other plants and animals. Nearly all GMOs are engineered to withstand herbicide and/or to produce insecticide. Despite what the industry promises, many GMO traits currently on the market, do not enhance nutrition or provide any other consumer benefit. Meanwhile, some evidence connects GMOs with health problems, environmental damage and violates farmers' and consumers' rights.
Genetically modified plants may grow faster and yield more, but the quality of the plant, which is later consumed, can cause a disruption of the body and in nature itself. Disruptions like immune activation and allergic responses, an increase in autoimmune diseases, respiratory and digestive imbalances to name a few. GMO's contribute negatively to human body systems which can lead to sickness and allergies. This is because proteins in foods trigger most allergic reactions. When foreign proteins that have not yet been consumed or tested for safety are spliced into common foods they present entities to the human body to which the immune system can not defend leading to immune activation. If the United States' Food and Drug Administration continue to allow plants and animals to be genetically modified, human and environmental health issues will rise. Environmental issues like crosspollination from GM crops to wild crops, increased toxicity to aquatic life living in nearby streams and the development of super weeds can wreak havoc on our world. "Several animal studies indicate serious health risks associated with GM food," including infertility, immune problems, accelerated aging, insulin regulation, and changes in major organs and the gastrointestinal system. They conclude, "There is more than a casual association between GM foods and adverse health effects. There is causation," as defined by recognized scientific criteria. "The strength of association and consistency between GM foods and disease is confirmed in several animal studies." (Doctors Warn- Avoid Genetically Modified Foods http://www.responsibletechnology.org/doctors-warn) This explains why other countries do not allow the use of genetically modified products. GMO's do more harm than good and should be properly labeled on all food products, so to not violate consumer rights. Italy, France and Germany are just a few among the numerous countries with regions banning GMO food and crops. Through their investigations, students will gain a deeper appreciation for nature's cycle in an attempt to make improvements. Students will understand that with change, there are also consequences, some that can not be undone.