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The Science and Politics of the GMO

Cornell University via edX

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What exactly are genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and why do scientists develop them? Studying the science of GMOs helps us understand biotechnology’s potential role in addressing challenges in agriculture.

In this introductory Food and Nutrition course, you will learn the basics of genetic engineering, explore the political debate around the GMO and review the arguments for and against their use.

We will study the politics surrounding the GMO and its impact at both an individual level and to society as a whole; including the problems, perceptions, benefits, and risks associated with GMOs. Important to understanding the complexities around this topic we will not only be looking at the science behind how the GMO works, but also to the limitations of this science. We will also discuss the importance of information literacy as a tool for effectively identifying and evaluating issues.

Our goal is that this MOOC will impact people's understanding of science, what it can and can't do, and how information is transmitted. The intent is not to influence how people feel about GMOs, but to give them the critical thinking and scientific literacy tools necessary to make informed decisions — and to understand the broader impacts of those decisions.


  • Week 1 - Introduction/Why GMOs
  • Week 2 - Why not GMOs
  • Week 3 - Contributions and Limits of Science
  • Week 4 - Politics and Society
  • Week 5 - GMOs and You

Taught by

Sarah Evanega, Ronald Herring, David Just, Jaron Porciello and Rebecca Harrison

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Review for edX's The Science and Politics of the GMO
4.0 Based on 1 reviews

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Maxime Z
4.0 2 years ago
by Maxime completed this course, spending 1 hours a week on it and found the course difficulty to be easy.
I only audited this course (essentially watched the videos), but I found it very interesting and informative. I certainly recommend it to anyone interested in a dispassionate overview of the controversial topic of GMOs.

The course team is obviously not 100% neutral regarding the debate on GMOs (can anyone be?), but I think they do their best to adopt a constructive approach and to explain the key aspects of the debate. Since I myself work in the field of nuclear energy, I'm well aware of the difficulty of having a rational debate on such issues, which generally suffer from partis…
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