GM decision

Following a EU rule change, the growing of GM crops across Europe will increase in many countries. It looks likely that GM foods such as breakfast cereals may be on our supermarket shelves within a year – but will many people choose them over GM-free alternatives?

In this activity students apply their knowledge about genes to learn why crops are genetically modified before evaluating health risks to decide which cereal they would buy.

Science objective

Inheritance: Suggest arguments for and against genetic modification (KS3 Science Syllabus)

Enquiry objective

Estimate risk: Weigh up the benefits and risks of an application of science to make a decision (KS3 Science Syllabus)

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GM decision image

Running the activity

Starter Discussion about why some people are anti-GM
Main Students apply their knowledge about genes to explain the purpose of growing GM corn and build jigsaws to analyse risks
Plenary Students decide which cereal they will buy and explain why

For detailed running notes, download the teachers guide.

Designed for the KS3 Science Syllabus


EU changes rules on GM crop cultivation

The news story the activity is based on

Overview of crop genetic engineering

An interactive animation which outlines the process used to genetically modify a crop. Suitable for GCSE students and extending the more able at KS3.

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  • mromero says:

    GM decision

    Relevant topic and powerful scenario to promote inquiry and the development of critical thinking and decision making

  • danroth says:

    Engaging, GM Nation Debate and Science Education

    I explored RRI methodology proposed by the Engage project in my classes of a postgraduate course (masters and doctorate) in science education at the Sao Paulo State University (Unesp) in Brazil. Public participation in policy-making in the field of science and technology is a relatively new topic even for graduate students. Students should be able to recognise the challenges to enable lay people to participate in debates aiming to contribute to science and technology policy-making. Reports from the Engage project helped me to devise strategies to prepare people to take part in public debates, particularly in the level of local committees of water management and governance in Brazil. Graduate students of science education discovered a whole new landscape in which science and technology policies become open to public scrutiny, specifically under the realm of local and regional participatory structures of water management and governance in Brazil, i.e. river basin committees.

  • miroslawaw says:

    GM Decision

    This a great activity! I will use it with my grade 9 class.

  • S Brown says:

    How does the jigsaw work?

    Other people have said that the jigsaws took a bit of figuring out, but no one has actually explained how they work! Can anyone help?

    • Gemma Young says:

      Jigsaw instructions

      The instructions are on slide 6 of the powerpoint:

      Place the middle part of the GM free jigsaw on the desk. (this is SS3 – the pieces need to be cut out before the lesson).
      In your group read the evidence about GM free food in order (A to G) (SS1)
      After each statement discuss: does the statement support the claim that eating GM free cereal is a risk to your health?
      If it does, add a piece to the GM free jigsaw.
      If it refutes (disproves) the claim, take a piece away.
      If the statement does not support or refute the claim, do not change the jigsaw.
      Repeat for the GM statements (SS2) and build the GM jigsaw (SS4).
      Compare the size of the jigsaws – which is a bigger risk to your health – GM cereal or GM free cereal?

      If you need any futher information then please let me know.

      Gemma (from the writing team)

    • Ale says:


      There are two jigsaws blue and purple with “pieces” to be cut

      When Kids read the arguments in small groups
      If the argument supports the risk then they include a piece in the jigsaw
      If it refutes then they remove a piece of the jigsaw
      If teh argument does not show clear evidence they can ignore and keep the jigsaw the same

      They repeat it for both jigsaws -the smaller jigsaw will help them to make their decision
      We have a version of the game on the computer as well
      It may help them to visualise the arguments and help them justify their conclusions
      Let us know if you want to see the game

      Best Ale

  • Ale Okada says:
    Expert See expert's profile

    GM decision – LiteMap

    Students were very engaged when we used GM decision with the application tool (free access) for mapping argumentation
    Students were able to map their arguments and using the map to justify their decisions using outline.

    This map was developed by the group of 8 students

  • carolynrhiannon says:

    How does the jigsaw work?

    How does the jigsaw work? It mentions student sheets, but I can only see the ppt – are the student sheets on the ppt?
    Thank you!

    • Gemma Young says:


      Yes – the student sheets are part of the main presentation powerpoint. They start on slide 8.

  • camillabwold says:

    Engaging resources

    Students were interested in the topic and engaged well with the lesson. They were initially confused by the jigsaw but once they worked it out they found it a valuable tool for comparing the two types of foods.

  • mjesus says:

    GM decision

    Feature very useful, requires students to reflect on the progress of biology techniques and evaluate the pros and cons of its use.

  • says:

    GM crop GE

    The pupil showed a lot of interest in the subject. The activities ere engaging and encouraged them to show their thinking skills.