6.5 Reproductive technologies – Further questions and answers Q1

6.5 Reproductive technologies – Further questions and answers
Bk Ch6 S6.5 FQ1
Find out about the Human Genome Project. (Include an Internet search in your investigation.)
What is it?
What important information has this project provided?
Outline some potential uses for this information.
Bk Ch6 S6.5 FA1
a and b
The Human Genome Project is an international endeavour to identify all of the genes that make
up humans as well as to determine the base sequence that codes for every one of those genes.
Many potential uses can be found on the project’s website, e.g. forensics, agriculture,
pharmaceuticals, global carbon cycles, nuclear medicine, bioremediation and biofuels.
Bk Ch6 S6.5 FQ2
Genetically modified foods have attracted a great deal of publicity in recent times.
Find out what is involved in developing genetically engineered food products such as crop plants
and livestock; for example, wheat, tomatoes, pigs.
Explain why food plants and animals genetically engineered.
Outline the advantages and disadvantages of genetically modified food compared with
traditionally managed products.
Conduct a survey to investigate community reaction to the idea of genetically engineered foods.
(Note: It is important to phrase your questions carefully and clearly. Be sure to check your
questionnaire with your teacher before conducting the survey.)
Summarise community attitudes to genetically engineered foods.
Write your own response to this issue.
Bk Ch6 S6.5 FA2
Genetically engineered food products are developed by either inserting a piece of foreign DNA
from a different species into the DNA of the plant or animal in question or by altering its DNA in
some way. For example, tomatoes have been genetically engineered by removing the gene that
controls ripening, altering it and then reinserting it into the parent DNA. This has the effect of
slowing down the ripening process so that tomatoes do not ripen and become soft too quickly;
they can also be transported over long distances without spoiling and have a longer shelf life.
Transgenic potatoes are currently being developed that have the anti-freeze gene from flounder
inserted into their DNA to make them frost-resistant.
Plants and animals used for food are genetically engineered to give them qualities that make them
more convenient for producers and more attractive for consumers. For example, slow-ripening
tomatoes are commercially more viable for producers if they can be transported over long
distances with reduced spoilage. Genetic engineering of some foods makes them more appealing
to the eye and tastier as well.
Genetically engineered foods may be commercially more viable. For example, slower ripening
fruits can be transported and stored without spoiling and have a longer shelf life; frost-resistant
potatoes will mean that successful potato crops can be produced in colder climates; apples may be
redder in colour and therefore be more appealing to consumers; genetically engineered pigs grow
rapidly and may have less fat and more muscle. Compared with traditionally managed products
these genetically altered products seem to have advantages for both producers and consumers.
However, the issue of genetic engineering of food products is hotly debated. Some sections of the
community want to see all genetically modified foods labelled as such so that consumers have a
choice. The long-term effects of consuming genetically modified foods are of concern to some
people because the technology is new and untested in the long term.
Example of community survey to investigate attitudes towards genetically modified foods:
Background information:
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Male 
Female 
Age group:
15–20  21–30  31–40  41–50  Over 50 
Are you comfortable with the idea of eating genetically modified foods?
Undecided 
NO 
Do you have any safety concerns about genetically modified foods?
Undecided 
NO 
If yes, please outline your concerns: ___________________________________________
Did you know that:
There are already a number of foods on supermarket shelves that contain
genetically modified foods?
YES  NO 
Genetically modified foods can reduce the use of pesticides on some crops?
YES  NO 
There are no studies yet available to assess the long-term effects of genetically
modified foods?
YES  NO 
Do you agree with the idea of genetically modified foods?
Undecided 
NO 
Why/why not? _____________________________________________________________
Do you think genetically modified foods should be labelled as such?
Undecided 
NO 
Why/why not? _____________________________________________________________
Other comments: __________________________________________________________
Bk Ch6 S6.5 FQ3
Prepare a report on the steps used by the Roslin Institute in Edinburgh, Scotland, to create Dolly,
the cloned sheep. You could present your findings as a written report, a computer presentation
such as PowerPoint, a brochure or a poster.
Identify specific examples of successful cloning that have been undertaken since Dolly. Include
Australian examples.
Outline the advantages and disadvantages of cloning animals.
Bk Ch6 S6.5 FA3
Dolly the cloned sheep was produced by the Roslin Institute in Edinburgh, Scotland using the
following technique.
Cells from the udder or mammary gland of an adult sheep were collected and cultured in a
specialised nutrient medium. The nutrient medium provided only the minimum requirements of
the cells and so instead of thriving the metabolism of the cells was slowed. This was important
because it meant the cells became relatively inactive instead of continuing to function as
specialised cells. This approach was like winding the clock back for these cells, returning them to
a relatively undifferentiated state. Then the nucleus of one of the cells was removed from the
mammary cell and inserted into a mature egg cell from which the nucleus had been removed.
After treatment to encourage the cell to grow and divide it was implanted into the uterus of an
adult sheep. There it grew and developed normally until a healthy lamb was born five months
Many other species of organisms have been successfully cloned since Dolly; for example,
Australian scientists successfully cloned cattle for the first time in the year 2000 when two calves
were born.
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Advantages and potential advantages of cloning animals include: cattle farmers could maintain
smaller herds of cattle that have higher milk yields; wool growers could keep stock with a
consistently high-quality wool yield; endangered species could be preserved; human organs could
be grown for transplant patients.
Disadvantages of cloning: if a herd of livestock all have the same genetic make-up and they
become subject to a disease all individuals in the herd will be affected, possibly wiping out the
herd and a farmer’s livelihood; potential decrease in biodiversity and the misuse of cloning on
ethical grounds, especially where it relates to humans.
Bk Ch6 S6.5 FQ4
Prepare a list of ethical issues arising from cloning technology about which there is community
concern. Choose one of these as the basis of a class debate.
Bk Ch6 S6.5 FA4
Ethical issues arising from cloning technology:
Is it fundamentally right or wrong to produce a clone of another organism?
Are there any benefits to cloning organisms? Who benefits? Do the benefits outweigh the risks or
How much does it cost the community to undertake cloning research and refine the technology?
Could the money be better spent attending to existing problems in our community, for example
better health care, reducing poverty?
Is it fundamentally right or wrong to deliberately produce a human clone?
Would cloning a child for the purposes of creating a perfect bone marrow match be ethical in the
case of a sick child, say with leukaemia?
Is cloning ‘playing God’?
What are the long-term effects of cloning on plants and animals? Could these plants and animals
be affected in some way, for example have a shorter life expectancy?
What potential is there for cloning technology to be abused?
Could large pharmaceutical companies claim ownership over genes that are found to be of
therapeutic benefit to humans, for example the genes or genome of plants used in the manufacture
of therapeutic drugs and medicines?
What status would a cloned person have in law? Who would be the parents of a cloned person?
What problems, for example psychological, might be encountered by someone who is cloned
when they learn of their origins?
How does cloning humans impact on the value we place on human life?
Bk Ch6 S6.5 FQ5
Outline the arguments used to suggest that reproductive technology can adversely affect
biodiversity. Are these concerns justified? Explain your reasoning.
Would a plantation of Sydney blue gums have a higher biodiversity than a plantation of pine
trees? Explain your answer.
Bk Ch6 S6.5 FA5
While reproductive technology is usually applied to domesticated organisms with the aim of
improving products and services the end result is the potential for a decrease in biodiversity. If
more and more agriculturalists obtain and grow genetically modified crops then fewer local and
natural varieties of those crops will remain until potentially they die out. There is already
evidence from the USA that thousands of varieties of crop plants have been lost. When only
genetically modified plants are used, and especially when these are grown as a result of asexual
reproduction so that all plants in a crop are genetically identical, the problems of environmental
factors such as disease may make an entire crop vulnerable. With fewer natural varieties to
replace them, some kinds of crop plants could become in danger of disappearing.
A plantation of Sydney blue gums will have a much higher level of biodiversity than a plantation
of pine trees. A pine plantation is a monoculture, that is, one kind of organism (the pine) is
predominant. A pine plantation in Australia can only support a simple food web. Pine trees
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produce no flowers and so attract no insects, birds or mammals for pollination. The leaves of
pines are modified into needles, which do not provide a suitable food supply for native insects,
which would in turn attract birds and other animals. A plantation of blue gums is quite different.
Its features will attract a range of animals that will develop into a complex food web. For
example, eucalypts produce flowers that attract insects. The insects in turn attract birds, spiders
and lizards in search of food. Larger animals will follow and eventually the ecosystem will
support many organisms.
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