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Chapter Six
Hungry Planet: Stories of Plant Diseases

Questions for Discussion


1.  What are the steps involved between the DNA coding of a gene and the production of the protein that expresses the information in that gene?

2.  Some genetic diseases are caused by enzymes (proteins) that do not function properly or that produce a harmful product. How could RNA interference be used to block the production of these enzymes?

3.  The universality of the genetic code suggests that any gene can function in any organism. Look at some of the Internet Resources, and consider what might be done. What useful products might be produced by bacteria? What plant improvements might help improve nutrition or biofuels? What animal improvements would you recommend? Should the restrictions on what types of genetic engineering are done be different for bacteria, plants, or animals? Why or why not?

4.  It is not possible to tell by looking at a plant whether an improvement has been accomplished by traditional breeding or genetic engineering. For example, orange cauliflower was produced by traditional breeding with a mutant plant found in nature. Some people want genetically engineered foods labeled as such. What would such a label tell consumers that would be useful to them? Should labels also be put on foods that have been genetically changed through traditional breeding? Why or why not?