Case study: All Things Food
As any biological species, we humans need food to survive. Food delivers nutrients such as carbs, amino acids, fibers, fatty acids, vitamins and minerals. Througout the human history food was hunted, collected, cooked in a variety of ways, preserved, selected and grown to improve certain qualities and properties. At the same time taste, personal preferences, access to food and cost of food are all factors which influence what we eat and how we eat it. This case study revolves around issues related to the production and consumption of food such as: healthy eating and healing foods, superfoods, organic food, junk food and GMO-based foods. We adopt different perspectives - from individual choice of food to global implications of food growing.
Recommended for: high school students, university students, adults
Tags: food production, economics, environment, sustainable development, health, personal choices, diets
Building block 4. Individual health benefits and concerns
This building block explores a very popular debate with regard to organic food and GMO food. The focus is on health benefits and concerns, real and imaginary. This debate can be observed in public media, but is also a frequent topic for discussion among family and friends. We attempt to help learners discover the facts, understand the factors which influence their opinions, and make an informed judgement for themselves. Going through the mountains of information in a focused and orderly way is a skill which has much wider applications and is fully-transversal.
1. The pros and cons of GMO crops, taking into account their potential effects on human health and the environment
https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/324576.php [Open from webarchive if link broken/inactive]
Engineers design plants using genetically modified organisms, or GMOs, to be tougher, more nutritious, or taste better. However, people have concerns over their safety, and there is much debate about the pros and cons of using GMOs.
2. Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs): Transgenic Crops and Recombinant DNA Technology
https://www.nature.com/scitable/topicpage/genetically-modified-organisms-gmos-transgenic-crops-and-732 [Open from webarchive if link broken/inactive]
If you could save lives by producing vaccines in transgenic bananas, would you? In the debate over large-scale commercialization and use of GMOs, where should we draw the line? Agricultural plants are one of the most frequently cited examples of genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Some benefits of genetic engineering in agriculture are increased crop yields, reduced costs for food or drug production, reduced need for pesticides, enhanced nutrient composition and food quality, resistance to pests and disease, greater food security, and medical benefits to the world's growing population. Advances have also been made in developing crops that mature faster and tolerate aluminum, boron, salt, drought, frost, and other environmental stressors, allowing plants to grow in conditions where they might not otherwise flourish
3. Will GMOs Hurt My Body? The Public’s Concerns and How Scientists Have Addressed Them
http://sitn.hms.harvard.edu/flash/2015/will-gmos-hurt-my-body/ [Open from webarchive if link broken/inactive]
4. Why bad food is good for business
https://theconversation.com/why-bad-food-is-good-for-business-23438 [Open from webarchive if link broken/inactive]
Contains multiple comparisons about the nutrients in fresh and processed foods.
5. Is organic really better for the environment than conventional agriculture?
https://ourworldindata.org/is-organic-agriculture-better-for-the-environment [Open from webarchive if link broken/inactive]
1. Stop buying organic food if you really want to save the planet
https://www.facebook.com/172681326246938/posts/683525971829135 [Open from webarchive if link broken/inactive]
2. Lisbon treaty outrage and Brexit
https://www.facebook.com/gary.turnbull.1460/posts/2383753671710033 [Open from webarchive if link broken/inactive]
1. School Kids In India Fall Sick Eating GMO Food
2. Organic Food: Healthy Or Great Myth? We all automatically assume that organic food equals healthy, eco-friendly, and nutritious. Yet several studies claim that "organic" doesn't necessarily stand for "the best."
3. Is Organic Food Worse For You?
4. Health benefits of eating organic?
5. Organic brands bloom in the Indian Food Market
6. ISRAEL EATING DEFILED FOOD AMONG THE HEATHEN NATIONS.. GMO FOOD CAUSES CANCER DISEASES IN THE BODY! [sic]
The learning outcomes represent the competences which learners are expected to develop as a result of the training intervention:
1. The learner will be able to identify and understand the nature of organic food and GMO
2. The learner will be able to understand and differentiate between facts, beliefs, opinions, interpretations according to the health benefits and concerns of organic food, GMO
3. The learner will be able to understand the concerns and fears of the GMO concept and the negatives of organic production
4. The learner will be able to perform quck source-and fact check on a rande of information types
5. The learner will be able to understand and provide examples of how motivated cognition influences opinions and the nature of frames
Suggested teaching methods
> Group work
> Debate and discuss both positions using arguments
> Apply source- and fact-checking to a set of resources
> Online research
Suggested learning activities
> At the start of the session, introduce social media post #1 from the list of resources. Ask the learners to go through the post, note the metrics, scroll through some of the comments. Ask how they feel about it and what they think about the overall message it conveys.
> Introduce the concepts of fact-checking and source-checking. Introduce the Eggshell model. Ask the learners to attempt to verify the claims using online search.
> After establishing the facts and the reliability of the source, ask the learners to re-evaluate their opinions from the start of the session. Trigger a qucik brainstorming of the author's motivation. Discuss the intended impact and real impact.
> Move to video resources #1 and #5. Use the process just learned in the previous activity. Do source-checking and fact-checking on these two items. Discuss findings. Discuss motives. Discuss reliability.
> Now move to the core topic of the case study. Introduce the main opposition to be investigated - health benefits vs. health concerns resulting from the use of organic foods and GMO.
> Divide the group in two. Let the learners find short definitions: first group - organic food; second group - GMO. Research is done exclusively in official sites and documents - do request that learners use reliable source (and this is a good opportunity to ask them for what their understanding of "realiable" is). A representative of each group writes one or two definition/s using a flipchart/whiteboard.
> Instruct the subgroups to search -- in the list of provided resources -- for information as listed below. Split text resources and video resources in half, so that each groupd has a set to study consisting of both types of resources. Allow studying resources that are not on the list, but be careful with the time:
- First group – facts, beliefs and opinions about organic foods /nutritional value, perceptions, taste/. Health risks of GMO and GMO-based diet.
- Second group - facts, beliefs and opinions about GMO /nutritional value, perceptions, taste/. Health risks of organic foods and organic food-based diets.
> Working with the whole group, define the meaning and relevance of every opinion, belief, fact, expectation found during their group work. It is important to classify the information as a fact or belief/opinion/expectation. Each subgroup is searching for information about the idea they are responsible for.
> Explain, by examples, what are memes and why they are considered parody/irony. As a challenge, ask each group to find and be ready to illustrate their key findings with the help of memes. Ask the learners to use memes that they find on the internet. Use this opportunity to show them how meme-generators work.
> Ask the groups to re-evaluate their position and the arguments found in the provided resources and already used in the debate. Encourage self-reflection with focus on information/disinformation. In full group: enlist, explain, provide example of properties which may indicate disinformation or manipulation. Discuss dangers from disinformation arising specifically in the food context.
De Facto pillars
Motivated Cognition: Explain what motivated cognition is and provide examples using the activity just completed (e.g. trusting particular sources, being influenced by...) - list or refer to a list with many possible instances of motivated cognition.
Frames and Framing: Explain the concept and ask the learners to reflect whether the debate around organic foods and GMO can be regarded through frames. Attempt to define these frames.
Additional online tools
Free online meme generators:
http://memebetter.com/generator | https://clideo.com/meme-maker | https://imgflip.com/memegenerator | https://makeameme.org/upload
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