Contemporary Approaches to Reducing Food Insecurity

Introduction 

This page provides an in-depth look at contemporary approaches to food production, including GM Crops, Vertical Farms and In Vitro Meat. The page is set up for students to work independently or teacher led through bespoke enquiry questions and activities alongside a noting sheet to identify the advantages and disadvantages of each approach. There is also the opportunity to develop a class debate around three key statements on the approaches. The tasks can be completed as part of the preparation ahead of the class debate. The resources develop specific place examples and explore the impacts of these approaches on food security and long term environmental sustainability.

Enquiry Question

What are the advantages and disadvantages of different contemporary approaches to reducing food insecurity?

Lesson Time: 2-3 Hours

Lesson Objectives:

  • To be able to identify different types of contemporary approaches to food production
  • To evaluate the advantages and disadvantages of different approaches including, GM crops, vertical farming and in vitro farming

Teacher Notes:

Starter Activity_ Photo Analysis and Gallery - Start by showing the students the gallery of images relating to contemporary approaches to reducing food insecurity. Students can link the correct image to to named approach on their worksheet

1. Class Debate Preparation _ Students can either be teacher led through the activities below which includes enquiry based questions, worksheets and video based questions, or they can complete the activities as part of the independent research for the debate statement below.

There is a noting sheet on advantages and disadvantages of GM crops, In Vitro Meat and Vertical Farming. This can be completed during the debate or as part of the preparation

Debate titles:

This house believes:

  1. That GM food is the answer to world hunger?
  2. That In Vitro Meat is the long term answer to environmental sustainability
  3. That vertical farming is the most cost effective way of feeding the urbanized world

The best format for this debate will include two people per team with 4 people per debate. As part of the preparation students should prepare a summary of their arguments to give to the class who will participate through questions and judge the outcome

If you prefer to teach some of the resources then they include

GM Crops Debate

  1. 54321 of GM Crops - a diagram arguing 5 key facts with GM crops inlcuding agribusiness dominance
  2. Card sort with arguments for and against GM crops
  3. Vindana Shiva critically examining the value of GM crops
  4. MIT article on why we need GM crops
  5. Infographics on successes of different GM staples
  6. GM Potato trial video in Ireland
  7. Success story of the climbing bean in Rwanda

In Vitro Meat

  1. Jigsaw activity - Cut up the infographic and students complete the jigsaw and then answer questions on th infographic
  2. Animation video on In Vitro Meat
  3. Discover Science articel on fatal floors of In Vitro Meat

Vertical Farming

  1. Vertical farming in Japan
  2. Hydroponic farms in the UK - Countryfile
  3. Guardian artilce - world's largest vertical farm
  • The types of food produced
  • The purpose of this food
  • The loss of fertile land
  • The loss of water

4. Students can study the map showing productivity yield. To what extent does it show a worrying trend?

5. Students can following this up by reading the extract and and can make notes on the extent to which it supports the views of Vindana Shiva.

Lesson 3 - GM crops

1. Students should use the resources in an enquiry approach to answer the question, to what extent are GMOs the answer to world hunger. print the packs out and get the students to work for 30 minutes in groups.

Alternatively you can set this up as research and class debate using the resources on the site. (I hour)

The site then as additional resources that include a MIT article in support of GMs, Vindana Shiva speaking up against them, a case study profile of a research project in Ireland, fact sheet on the successes of various food items and one case study of the successful introduction of GM climbing beans in Rwanda

Starter Activity_ Contemporary Approaches to Food Production

Look at the following slides and try to match the type of contemporary approach to food production on your worksheet to correct image in the gallery below

Contemporary Approaches

Student Activity - Contemporary Approaches - Class Debate

Students can either be teacher led through the activities below which includes enquiry based questions, worksheets and video based questions, or they can complete the activities as part of the independent research for the debate statement below.

The best format for this debate will include two people per team with 4 people per debate. As part of the preparation students should prepare a summary of their arguments to give to the class who will partcipate through questions and judge the outcome.

This house believes:

  1. That GM food is the answer to world hunger?
  2. That In Vitro Meat is the long term answer to environmental sustainability
  3. That vertical farming is the most cost effective way of feeding the urbanized world

Debate Structure:

  1. 2 minute entry statements for and against house belief
  2. Followed by second 2 minute statement beginning with points of information on the opposite opening statement(s)
  3. 5 minutes of open debate starting with questions from the floor
  4. Final vote from the audience based on the quality and persuasiveness of the debating teams

Debate Feedback Sheet

Students should investigate the following enquiry question using the resource provided. Print it out and cut it up as selection of text resources and graphics. Students should then uses the information to build up their own argument on how effective GM food has been for increasing food production.

To what extent can it be claimed that GM food is the answer to world hunger?

GM Handout

The following 54321 graphic can be a useful support to the class discussion on the effectiveness of GMOs for increasing food production. Other discussion points are included in the box below


To what extent are GMOs:

  1. focused on improving food production?
  2. sustainable?

What does the last graphic on Increasing number of resistant weeds suggest is a problem with GMOs?

To what extent are GMOs more about profit than food?

Why do you think feeding the hungry and providing resilience to climate change seem to be low down on the list of priorities for companies like Monsanto?

Students can also watch this short clip from Vandana Shiva covering her criticism of GMOs.

Some of her key points include:

  • A loss of diversity through monoculture
  • A focus on profit making (food control)
  • An over extensive farming system
  • Environmentally damaging intensification
  • Increased farmer suicide rates in India, (disputed due to complexity of reasons)


Click on the image to access the full MIT article

Student Activity_ Exploring Some of the Successes of GM Food

Students should identify a number of potential positive steps in the form of direct increases in food production.

Give the following three infographics to groups of students or place them around the room and students should fact find the potential for future food production the three staples, potato, wheat and rice.

GM Successes


Student Activity_ GM Potatoes in Ireland

Watch the following video clip from MIT Technology Review and make notes on how the new GM variety potato can resist blight.

Student Activity_ Read the MIT article extract on why we will need GM Foods

MIT on GM Crops

Student Activity_ The Climbing Bean in Rwanda


A Rwandan farmer proudly showing her climbing bean

Research how in Rwanda they have successfully introduced GM climbing beans replacing the traditional bush bean and directly increasingly farmer income and food production.

Website link

Student Activity_ In Vitro Meat Jigsaw

  1. Use the following PDF as a jigsaw and have students to put the jigsaw back together. Check your answers here
  2. Using your jigsaw make notes on the advantages of In Vitro Meat versus conventional beef production.

Jigsaw

Student Activitiy_ Animation Meat The Future

Watch the animation on In Vitro Meat Production and answer the questions on your worksheet

Student Activity_ The Fatal Floors of In Vitro Meat

Read the following text from Discover Science and make note the challenges and disadvantages of In Vitro Meat.

Student Activity _ Vertical Farming in Japan

Watch the following video based in Japan on vertical farming and identify the advantages and disadvantages

Student Activity_ Hydroponic Animal Feed in the UK

Watch the following video from Countryfile on the BBC and make note further notes on the use of hydroponics to grow animal feed

Student Activity_ World's Largest Vertical Farm

Read the following Guardian article that questions the productivity and reach of vertical farm projects and make notes on the problems the article with vertical farms the article identifies.

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