Although controversial in some circles, the theory of evolution is a fundamental part of our understanding of biological systems and agricultural engineering and genetic engineering. The BioQuest biological curriculum uses controversy as part of their pedagogical approach based on a 3P’s approach to science education: Problem-posing, Problem-solving, and Peer Persuasion.
Evolution used to take a geologic time to take its course, but human intervention has now hastened that process into a matter of few months. Genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are currently under the global limelight because of their increased presence in our food sources. A rising movement for food that has not been genetically engineered and is sustainably farmed is reflected in the booming organic food market in the recent few years. On November 12, latest research from Mintel confirms that, in light of prominent health and food safety concerns, the organic movement has most definitely burst onto the mainstream. Mintel reports that organic food sales have grown a whopping 132% since 2002, while organic beverage sales nearly doubled (97%) during the same period. Together, the organic food and beverage markets now make up a nearly $6 billion dollar a year industry.
The controversy on eating these genetically modified foods lies in the lack of information on the impact they may have on our health. Research dollars are being invested to elucidate the benefits and potential side effects on health due to consumption of genetically modified foods. Before any ill effects have yet to be found, the application of genetics to our foods already has some obvious advantages such as enhanced flavors and increased overall food production. Furthermore, before geneticists even tampered with our food, we have been eating foods that farmers grew using techniques to select for the most desirable qualities of each species and incorporating them into one superior product, only now genetics has made this process faster and easier to achieve the same effect.
For more information, see the Engineering Pathway‘s resources on Darwin and the theory of evolution, For related educational resources, visit the Biological Systems and Agricultural Engineering Education or the Bioengineering and Biomedical Engineering Education community sites. Or visit the BEN (Biological Educator’s Network), our Pathway Partner in the National Science Digital Library (NSDL).