Unit Three STSE Assignment: Molecular Genetics

Relating Science to Technology, Society and the Environment

Topic 1: Biotechnology and Bioengineering

Analyse, on the basis of research, some of the social, ethical, and legal implications of biotechnology (e.g., the bioengineering of animal species, especially those intended for human consumption; the cultivation of transgenic crops; the patenting of life forms; cloning)

Sample issue: Corporations that have patented genetically modified (GM) seeds legally require farmers to buy new seeds from them each planting season. Corporations that find GM crops on a farm that did not purchase their seed can take the farmer to court. However, natural processes such as cross-pollination can result in the migration of GM crops to neighbouring farms.

Sample questions for a possible focus: Should private companies be able to patent life forms, including genetic material? Why or why not? Who owns and controls our personal genetic information? Who should have access to our personal genetic information and decide how it will be used? What are the ethical implications of reproductive technologies that allow postmenopausal women to conceive?

Topic 2: Canadian Regulations Pertaining to Biotechnology

Analyse, on the basis of research, some key aspects of Canadian regulations pertaining to

biotechnology (e.g., current or potential legislation for mandatory DNA fingerprinting, human cloning, ownership of a genome, patenting of genetically modified organisms), and compare them to regulations from another jurisdiction.

Sample issue: Modern biotechnologies, such as selective breeding, are regulated under Health Canada’s Food and Drugs Act and the Canadian Environmental Protection Act. It is an ongoing challenge to ensure that our regulations keep up with advances in scientific knowledge and technologies, as well as with developments in other countries.

Sample questions for a possible focus: What is the role of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency with respect to biotechnology? What role does the Canadian Environmental Protection Act play in regulating biotechnology? Why was bovine growth hormone approved for use in dairy cattle in the United States but not in Canada? Why does Mexico have laws to limit the cultivation of genetically modified corn? What countries have banned human cloning? What is Canada’s position on this issue?


Choose one of the two topics that interest you and either choose one or more of the sample questions as your focus or choose your own focus based on the topic that you choose. Produce a standard format research paper.

Format of Report:

Standard research paper format including a title page, table of contents, embedded notes for references, sub-titles and reference page/work cited(not a bibliography)

Please do not exceed 4 typed pages (table of contents and ref/work cited page as well as diagrams extra)

-include diagrams, graphs, photos with explanations

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